Five Signs It Is a Work From Home Scam

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Everyone could use a little extra money. This is what makes those work-from-home job offers in newspapers and Internet ads so tempting; you could earn thousands of dollars a week stuffing envelopes and assembling crafts. Unfortunately, the only ones profiting off of these and most work-from-home jobs are criminals.These scammers promise riches to anyone willing to work from home for a few hours a week.  In reality, a scammer will take your money and run, leaving you unemployed and hundreds of dollars poorer. 

No one wants to fall victim to a work-at-home scam. During the application process, you're often asked to provide personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account info -all of which can leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

To protect yourself, you need to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate job offer and a fake one.  Here are the five signs that a job posting is a work-from-home scam.

Sign #1 - Lack of Details
The ad makes great promises of fast fortunes - but it never mentions a company name.  It also fails to mention a job title, and the address listed doesn't exist in the real world.  Be wary with ads that seem secretive with details.  Some legitimate companies purposely omit their company name from job postings, but they always include a complete job description.  If you can't figure out exactly what work you'll be doing for the company, walk away from the "opportunity" - it is a scam.

Sign #2 - No Skills Required
Doctors and lawyers are paid hundreds of dollars an hour because they are skilled in their professions.  So why would any company pay a non-skilled worker the same rate as a doctor or lawyer?  If a job posting says you can make thousands of dollars working from home a few hours a week, it is a scam.  You need to be skilled at something to earn that much money - and a legitimate company will want proof of your skills, with a resume and references.  If an ad promises easy money, no skills required, a scammer is trying to lure you in to rip you off.  

Sign #3 - Conditions
The ad promises you fast and easy money - but first you'll need to call a 1-900 number, or you'll need to take an online course, or you'll need to purchase a starter kit.  All of these conditions require you to pay money before you can start work.  Think about it - what honest company asks their employees to pay money before they start work?  Real jobs never come with these kinds of conditions; if an ad promises you thousands only if you pay $1000 up front, it is a scam.  

Sign #4 - The Company Comes Looking for You
Legitimate companies advertise job openings in local newspapers, and they receive hundreds of resumes from potential candidates.  So why does a company willing to pay thousands of dollars a week to unskilled workers need to send out emails and flyers to attract job seekers?  Only scammers are that desperate for workers.  If you receive an email or a flyer offering you the job of a lifetime, delete or recycle it.  And don't automatically trust a company with a "sponsored ad" on a major website.  Scammers can buy these ad spaces just as easily as a legitimate company can.

Sign #5 - Great - but Questionable - Testimonials
Bob from Mainville made $2000 a week working for the company.  AcmeXYZ Magazine rated the company as one of the ten best to work for in 2009.  The reviews are glowing - but do they mean anything?  More often than not, Bob is part of the scam; the invention of a creative writer working for the scammer.  And if AcmeXYZ Magazine even exists, it might have been paid to give a positive review.  Even reviews from trusted magazines and celebrities can be forged.  Unless you hear a glowing testimonial straight from a "trusted" source's mouth, treat it with caution. Many consumers have been tricked by sites masquerading as investigative news organizations professing to separate the scams from real work-at-home opportunities -in their hometown. See earlier blog: Scam Warning Over Bogus Consumer Warning Site

Here are two quick warning signs the job offer may be too good to be true or legitimate;  

• If they want you to pay them -it's not a legit job offer!  Legitimate employers will pay you -not the other way around.
• If they offer to over pay you -it's not a legit job offer! In the popular overpayment scam, scammers send you a check with instructions to deposit it and withdraw a portion of the funds for taxes, with further instructions to wire them the cash.  Once you deposit the check, it will eventually bounce, leaving you on the hook for the money you withdrew -and any overdraft fees.

If you are a victim of a work-at-home scam -or any type of fraud -first, don't feel embarrassed. You are not alone. These scammers are sophisticated and have lured untold numbers of victims with their bait.  Report any fraud to the appropriate local, state or federal law enforcement and regulatory authorities.  Internet complaints can be easily reported to The Internet Crime Complaint Center.  (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)
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