Work at Home Jobs: How to Tell a Legitimate Remote Job from a Scam
Fake listings are one of the biggest online traps unsuspecting job seekers fall victim to. Learn the red flags to protect yourself now.
Think work at home jobs sound too good to be true?
Some of them actually are.
Just like every positive has a negative, one downside to the rise of remote work is the increase in work from home job scams on big employment sites and small job boards alike.
To protect yourself from nefarious con artists and hackers, you have to know how to spot the fakes from the real telecommuting jobs out there.
Work at Home Jobs: 7 Ways to Spot a Scam
Take note of these warning signs before you proceed with that remote job ad:
#1. Extremely Unprofessional Job Posts
While you may come across a few fakes that are well-written, you can usually ID a phony job ad simply by reading it.
Since most scammers don't have the money to hire anyone with excellent written communication skills to create their listings, they'll be rife with errors any professional would catch.
Take note of glaring issues with:
- Verb tense
Sometimes you don't even have to apply to a job ad to receive an offer in your inbox....
#2. You Never Contacted Them; They Reached Out to You
If you receive an email from anyone saying they saw your resume online and want to offer you a job immediately, be sketched out.
A scam like this is designed to inflate your ego, pique your interest, and catch you off-guard, especially if you've been job hunting for a while.
Of course you're a catch, but any reasonable hiring manager or decision maker would require an interview and a chat before offering you a real position, at the very least.
Don't let the amazing salary and little-to-no job duties of their offer entice you.
#3. A Crazy High Salary Despite a Super Vague Job Description
If you see a job ad promising a high salary but the details about how exactly you'll be earning that money aren't totally clear, move on to the next one.
A scammer will try to make their phony job sound real by using vague job descriptions and requirements literally any working adult would meet, such as being over 18 and a legal citizen.
Actual work at home job descriptions include loads of juicy details intended to weed out candidates who aren't the right fit, such as:
- A real job title
- Daily tasks you'll be expected to complete
- Education or experience required
- Personality traits or skills you need
- Information about the company's history
They may also include a company email for correspondence.
#4. Replies or Offers from a Personal Email Account
Unless you're replying to a virtual personal assistant ad, listings should include a company email, not a personal email address. The same goes for all email responses to applications you've submitted.
At the bottom of these emails, you should find information about the company such as their physical address, phone number, and website in the signature.
Don't spot these details in the correspondence or job ad?
There's a good chance they don't exist.
Keep an ear out for all the excuses scammers will spout when you ask why they're using their personal email, such as:
- The company servers are down
- They've had crippling issues with spam or viruses
- The business is too new to have their email set up yet
Here's a trick: Whenever you see an email address your gut says is sketchy, copy and paste the whole thing into a search to see if other words like 'scam' or 'fraud' also pop up.
Do this immediately if you're asked for secure intel at any point during your back-and-forths.
#5. You're Asked for Confidential Information
Many fake job listings are created just to steal personal information from unsuspecting job seekers.
Some of these scammers will say that in order to proceed to the next step of the hiring process you'll need to have a credit score or background check.
You'll then be directed to a website where you'll be prompted to enter all your personal info.
But instead of that information being encrypted and sent off to a trustworthy site, it will get funneled right to the hackers or posted on the dark web.
So turn back if anyone asks for personal information such as your:
- Social security number
- Driver's license number
- Credit card information
- Bank account information
- Other identifying personal information
Another way scammers con people is by using fake job application pages.
Candidates will receive an email telling them to complete the next step of their job application online. The link takes them to a site where visitors fill out everything someone needs to steal their identity.
Both the email and website will look totally convincing and have company logos and a professional-seeming address close to the real thing. But it's all a lie.
And don't be fooled if you're told you'll be reimbursed for so-called onboarding expenses either.
#6. You Have to Pay for Anything
Another hallmark move used by scammers is telling applicants they need to purchase a prepaid debit card to send to the company or wire a money transfer to pay for necessary components of the hiring process.
So you may be asked to pay for:
- A background check
- A credit report
- Professional resume review
- Programs or software you'll need to use to complete the job
- A starter kit, which will include "everything you need to make money"
- Training material or online courses, especially if you're told you can't get the job without taking the course (and paying for it)
You shouldn't have to invest any of your money to begin working for someone else.
The same warning alarms should sound for this final bad omen.
#7. Asking for a Direct Deposit Before Your Interview
Scammers will say their employees are paid via direct deposit from their company's banking institution and casually ask for your payment information.
You'll either be prompted for a blank check or sent to a bogus website where you'll be asked to enter your banking numbers before your scheduled interview.
Obviously that interview never happens; the hiring rep mysteriously starts ghosting you and your bank issues a fraud alert on your account.
But despite all this bad news, not all remote jobs are scams.
A legitimate one you're excited about could be the best career move you'll ever make.
How to Find Real Work at Home Jobs
Remote work is the future. And if you want a work at home job for real, take these three steps to find a legitimate one:
Research the Bananas Out of Every Company
You not only want to make sure each company with a potential work at home job is a functioning operation, but also that you'll be a good fit for the company culture if you are hired.
Use this list of what to look for on a company website to guide you:
- History and mission statement
- Contact information, including a physical address
- Case studies and client testimonials
- Recent news stories and press releases
Also try to scope out how many actual remote employees each company currently has and how many open positions it has to offer. This data will give you an idea of their virtual workforce and your potential coworking team.
Check Out the Reviews and Ratings
In addition to your research, look for reviews from former employees, social media mentions, and ratings from sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to dig up dirt on potential employers before you get too deep.
These will give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how the company really handles their activities.
Only Use Trustworthy Remote Job Boards
Stop weeding through scams on Craigslist and use a job board without all the junk.
We Work Remotely, the job site over 2,500,000 monthly visitors trust to help them find a virtual position, has everything you need to score a real remote gig.
Check it every day or sign up for daily emails featuring new job listings in your field to stay in the loop.
Whether you're looking for a full-time or part-time work at home job, follow these tips and you'll be one safe step closer to your goal.