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How to Tell Legitimate Work at Home Jobs From Scams

Opportunities called legitimate work at home jobs are often anything but legit.


Woman using laptop.
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When getting started working from home, figuring out which are legitimate work at home jobs and which are work at home scams can be tough. As you cull through the many Internet job postings and ads, a pattern of deception becomes clearer, which in turn makes the truly legitimate work at home jobs easier to spot.

You begin to learn to spot the work at home scams, in part, because of the sameness of all their pitches.

So to find the legitimate work at home jobs and avoid the scams follow these tips:

  • Use common sense. Think about the logic of an opportunity from the other side. How would the promoters of the opportunity make money if they are paying you so much for so little work? Also if a company's marketing strategy is primarily based on appearing legitimate, that is likely because it is offering a work at home scam...or at the very least a poor money-making opportunity. That's why any job that promotes itself in search engine ads as a "legitimate work at home job" most likely is not legit.
  • Do your homework. Do not send money to any organization without thoroughly checking it out. Keep in mind that most legitimate companies do not charge job applicants and that business opportunities are never risk-free (and some are, in fact, quite risky).

  • Know how to spot the work at home scam. One tricky scam technique is to set up a whole website dedicated to revealing work at home scams and then funnel people to the few "legitimate" work at home jobs, which, of course, are not legitimate. But there are so many other tricks so read on for more scams.
  • Know the typical work at home scams. While the work-at-home scammers are always coming up with new schemes, they tend to be variations on a few themes. Some of the opportunities listed below can be legitimate work at home jobs, but often they are not—so be very careful with any of these. And some you should always avoid.
    • Direct Sales or multilevel marketing (MLM)
    • Pyramid Schemes - Always avoid!
    • Business start-up kits
    • Anything involving cashing checks/wiring money - Always avoid!
    • Home assembly/envelope stuffing - Always avoid!
    • Becoming a product re-seller or wholesaler
    • Stock trading systems - Always avoid!
    • Directories of telecommuting jobs or businesses
    • Taking online surveys
    • Mystery shopping
    • Data entry/call centers (Some are legit but, the lure of these jobs is used to sell bogus start-up kits and other scams.)
  • Avoid job opportunities found on advertising on search engines and many websites. Keep in mind that truly companies hiring for legitimate work home jobs, like any other employer, are looking for qualified, reliable people to do the work. Screening applicants is a time-consuming process. So those casting a wide net by using Google or search engine ads are not as likely to be legitimate.
  • Don't pay for opportunities. And in the real-world workplace, employers don't charge employees to work for them. And there are so many free resources like this list of legitimate work from home jobs by industry. Scams, posing as "legitimate business opportunities" will ask for money. The pitch is that businesses are expected to have start-up costs. However, true businesses are typically not simple exchanges of unskilled labor for payment, as in home assembly and envelope-stuffing schemes. And a real home business is developed over time with careful planning and research, not purchased online sight unseen.
  • Report scams. If you suspect that you have been scammed, report it immediately. Contact your bank if you've given out financial information and report it to your state's attorney general or any number of other authorities. Read more about how to report a scam.

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