Working from home is something that many people are interested in doing these days, and it's not limited to those who are out of work. The U.S. Labor Bureau reports that in 2010, "multiple jobholders were nearly twice as likely to work at home as were single jobholders." With almost everyone looking for a way to cash in at home, it's important to be able to identify common job scam scenarios and learn to protect yourself from unscrupulous individuals offering work-at-home riches.

Types of Scams
While there is almost an unlimited number of ways that scammers chose to lure in unsuspecting consumers, there are some common job categories that are more likely to be illegitimate. Leslie Truex, author of "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" says that these usually include:

  • Envelope Stuffing (mailing programs)

  • Assembly Work

  • Gifting Programs

  • Email Processing

  • Rebate Processing

  • Repackaging Jobs

  • Payment Processing

  • Jobs that ask for money to hire you

  • Business opportunities that don't have a product or service

Do Your Research
Regardless of the type of work you are curious about, however, there are some ways to be certain that you don't fall prey to shady practices. The most obvious way is to become as informed about a new opportunity as possible, either by researching through sites like the Better Business Bureau or through interviews done with those who are listed as successful participants in the program. Due diligence is almost always the most effective way to stay out of trouble.

Avoid Pressured Pitches
Leslie also recommends that job seekers beware of any business that seems overly aggressive with their sales pitch and requires an immediate decision for enrollment. "Anytime you want to sign up to work at home today, you're at risk for being scammed," she admits. Some of the most common scams occur when websites insist that the opportunity is only available to a few select job seekers and consumers jump at a position without studying it carefully. Anything that features a countdown timer or promises a "last chance" sale on start-up kits, for example, are likely to be fakes.

Keep Your Cash
Perhaps the best way to tell if an opportunity is a lie is by how much money they require up front. Leslie agrees with most experts that cash exchanged for more information on a job, a success kit of any kind or for lists of those that are hiring, will most likely never be used for a legitimate business. In addition to inflated fees for things such as envelopes, CDs and access to databases, consumers should steer clear of offering their own financial instruments or cash to engage in check cashing practices. "Never use your personal bank account to help a company do business," urges Leslie.

Pursuing the Job of Your Dreams
So what should job seekers look for in a work-at-home opportunity? Keeping your skills and interests in perspective is one way to keep your options reasonable. If a job is for shipping and receiving, but you have no logistics training, for example, it's likely not going to be a good (or reputable) match. Start by doing an assessment of what you're already good at, and see if you can sell a good or service that is in high demand. Check reputable websites that offer work-at-home jobs from reputable companies on a regular basis. For example regularly highlights openings for home-based customer service reps, auditors and designers with no money required to apply.

The Bottom Line
Being informed is still the best defense against fraud. Don't rush into any job without evidence that it's a good fit, and never jump on board with a promise of fast cash or unrealistic earnings in exchange for little time or skill investment. The good jobs are out there, but like any other employment opportunity, they require talent and effort to obtain.

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Essential Tips on Making Your Hobby Your Career

    Here are some ways to turn what you love to do for fun into your job.
  2. Investing News

    This is the Fastest-Growing Consumer Complaint

    There’s no way to guarantee that your Social Security number won’t fall into the wrong hands. Here are some ways to make yourself less of a target.
  3. Professionals

    Prevent Employees From Hacking You Computer System

    Cyber security attacks from a current or ex-employee can cause a lot of pain. Here is how to avoid such attacks.
  4. Entrepreneurship

    What Does It Mean To Be Self-Employed?

    A self-employed individual works for herself instead of working for an employer that pays a salary or hourly wage.
  5. Personal Finance

    How Salary Experts Evaluate Stay-at-Home Moms

    Thinking about staying home with your little ones? Computing the replacement cost of your domestic duties can help you make a more informed decision.
  6. Professionals

    How To Keep Millennials Motivated in the Workplace

    Millennials, ages 18 to 34, will soon make up most of the global workforce. What are the best ways to maximize their potential for top performance?
  7. Entrepreneurship

    Top 10 Side Jobs You Could Start Now

    Ways to make extra cash in your spare time.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    Millennials Guide: Freelancer vs. Employee

    How to decide if joining the gig economy is right for you.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    Top 10 Jobs That Allow You to Work From Home

    Here are some top careers where you'll find work-at-home job opportunities.
  10. Entrepreneurship

    Work-From-Home Scams: How to Avoid Them

    Learning when a lucrative opportunity is – and isn't – legitimate.
  1. How should a whistleblower report unlawful or unethical behavior?

    Whistleblowing takes many forms. A whistleblower could expose government corruption, expose unethical business behavior or ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do insurance companies use a whistleblower?

    Fraudulent claims are among the most prevalent and serious business risks that insurance companies face. Many consumers have ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What were the primary financial crimes involved in the ZZZZ Best case?

    ZZZZ Best was a company started by Barry Jay Minkow that claimed to be a carpet cleaning business. In fact, it was a Ponzi ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does identity theft or credit card fraud also occur with cash-on-delivery?

    While cash on delivery (COD) is a system intended to typically reduce risk and fraud, as with any type of financial transaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an in-store and an online payday loan?

    There are several differences between in-store and online payday loans. They include: Interaction between borrower and lender. When ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the most common scams regarding Social Security benefits?

    There are a number of common scams that target Social Security benefits. These scams generally involve criminals who impersonate ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  2. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  3. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  4. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  5. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  6. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!