work from home
Business, Entrepreneurship

How to Avoid Work-from-Home Scams

One of the largest movements in today’s workplace is the shift from traditional office-based jobs to work-at-home positions. The number of companies offering home-based positions and virtual offices grows every day, as more and more companies take advantage of today’s technology to expand their workforce. Similarly, employees are becoming more interested in the opportunity to set their own schedules, take control of their own workload, and escape the confines of office-based employment. However, as the popularity of virtual employment grows, so does the prevalence of sophisticated cybercrimes and scams. For people seeking employment from home, it can be disheartening to discover that the so-called “dream job” they found is actually a ploy to scam would-be employees. To prevent this from happening to you, learn to identify and avoid these work-at-home nightmares.

Data Entry Disaster

data entryData entry positions are one of the most common scams among work-at-home employment opportunities. While there are legitimate companies looking for individuals to input information into their systems, a data entry scam relies on ambitious people anxious to find work. The unsuspecting individual is offered a position, with the caveat of first purchasing the access codes or software required to do the work. The fee is generally a reasonable amount (most average $100), which jobseekers will gladly pay. After all, it seems like a small price to pay for the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars, all from the comfort of home. The problem? After paying the fee, the “employer” vanishes with the money, and the work never materializes. The lesson? Never pay for programs or software to download, particularly to unknown companies with unverified origins. Research any potential data entry job before agreeing to download anything, and never pay a company to give you work.

Questionable Medical Billing / Claims Processing

The medical field seems like a valid, reliable source of employment. Anyone who has made a medical claim or filed insurance paperwork knows how time consuming and detailed the process is, making it ideal for a work-from-home position. Additionally, outsourcing the paperwork to work-at-home employees purportedly reduces costs and streamlines the process. The problem? While some of those claims are valid, the majority of these jobs are not. Medical information is covered by privacy laws, making it illegal for doctors to pass forms and identifiable information on to others. As a result, most doctors refuse to work with anyone other than established companies whose employees are trained in handling sensitive information. The lesson? Find out exactly who the employer is—vague claims from “medical professionals” are not enough to support a career in medical billing.

Repacking Trouble

packagingOne of the newer work-at-home scams is in repacking and shipping. Employees receive large shipments of material, usually in bulk quantities, that they repack into smaller quantities and then ship to customers. The employee is told they will be reimbursed for their shipping expenses once they have been received by the customer. Unfortunately, this “simple way” to make money is often a front for dealing in stolen merchandise. Fraudsters using stolen credit card information purchase large quantities of materials and then re-sell them at steep profits. The problem? When authorities track down the stolen shipments, it leads them straight to your door. The lesson? Jobs that seem too easy often have sinister strings attached. If you get paid only after you submit expenses, chances are the job is a scam.

Out of the Blue, Into Problems

Individuals seeking home-based positions often send out resumes and applications to a variety of companies in an effort to find work. As a result, they may be thrilled when they receive a job offer they don’t remember applying for. Recent scam victims were contacted through LinkedIn, offering them a position with a legitimate-sounding company. The job details included a substantial salary, with a limited window of opportunity, requiring a quick decision. As a result, jobseekers jumped at the chance, but were shocked when the employer disappeared. The problem? Jobs that you haven’t applied for may not be legitimate work. Companies that require quick decisions, accompanied by a need for purchasing software or supplies, are generally scams. The lesson? Always verify company information, regardless of where the job offer originates. Never pay for supplies or provide bank account information to companies that are unverified.

Working at home may be a dream come true, but for the victims of these employment scams, it can become a nightmare. Using common sense, verifying company information, and discussing job opportunities with trusted friends and family members can help prevent getting taken by these scam artists.