Real Work-from-Home Job or Scam? 8 Tips to Protect Yourself
Want to work from home? Now’s a great time to pursue the dream. In 2020, flexible remote job opportunities exist in practically every field. There’s a good chance you can do the work you want, when you want, from the comfort of your own home.
Unfortunately, that also means there are more work-from-home scams out there than ever before. Not every opportunity or job listing is legitimate.
At Liveops, we’ve heard about many of those fraudulent schemes. Prospective agents have informed us about scammers presenting themselves as Liveops executives or recruiters. A few impostors have even gone as far as using Liveops employee names and photos.
Rule #1 for Avoiding Scams: Follow the Money
If you’re wondering if a job offer is legitimate, or if a company like Liveops is a scam, always follow the first rule of avoiding work-from-home fraud: stay away from anyone who asks you for money.
Liveops never charges people to apply or work with our company. Offers that require you to purchase how-to guides, mailing lists, start-up kits, and so forth are almost always about selling those items—not helping you make money.
Note that this isn’t the same as paying for your own expenses. Independent contractors do typically have upfront costs. You are responsible to buy the equipment you need to work, for example, and to cover background check fees.
7 More Tips to Tell Scams and Real Jobs Apart
Can you differentiate between what’s too good to be true and what’s too good to pass up? To help you distinguish the real opportunities from the scams, we asked for advice from our experienced recruiters.
Avoid work-from-home scams with these tips:
- Ignore people who contact you with offers that you did not apply for or inquire about. In this type of scam, a person may claim to be from a legitimate company (like Liveops), but may direct you to a fake website, application, or interview process where they attempt to collect personal information. Protect yourself: Be wary of emails from companies that you did not give your email address to. If an email seems suspicious, search for the company online and go directly to their website instead of clicking on links in the email, and never send sensitive information such as your social security number, birth date or credit card information via email or online chat. (Do you know the telltale signs of a fraudulent email? Take Google’s phishing quiz.)
- Pay attention to the sender’s email address. Free communication tools can make it easy for an unscrupulous person to create a fake company or to impersonate a real one. Take the time to verify the sender and the company in question. Legitimate companies tend not to use free tools such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and instant messaging services for interviews. Real companies also usually have a professional-looking company website and verifiable street address. For example, anyone legitimately working for Liveops will have an email address that ends in @liveops.com.
Protect yourself: If you can’t verify that a company is legitimate, it may be best to look elsewhere.
- Avoid offers that promise a lot of money with very little effort. Legitimate work-from-home opportunities will typically take some effort on your part to be successful. Work is work, after all.
Protect yourself: Make sure you understand what you will be doing to earn money, how you will be paid, and the skills you need to succeed. Keep this old adage in mind when evaluating work-from-home opportunities: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Be wary of companies that try to “pay” you before you’ve done anything. A real company will almost never offer to send you a check to purchase office equipment or ask you to do any type of money transfer immediately. This may sound like the reverse of the situation laid out in rule #1—but it’s still a scam. Upfront investment from either party is a red flag. The scammer is depending on you falling for the trap of easy money. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the check will bounce after you’ve already spent the money or made a transfer. Protect yourself: Most companies that are providing you with office equipment will either send you the equipment itself or provide you with details about their expense reimbursement policy.
- Don’t do business with anyone who mentions gift cards. Scammers are increasingly trying to hide their tracks by getting paid and offering payment via gift card (e.g. an Amazon gift card) rather than cash. Protect yourself: Real companies will never, ever pay you in gift cards, nor will they transfer money in and out of gift card accounts. If you have to jump through hoops to access your money, it’s not worth your time.
- Be careful with recruiters who don’t ask about your education or experience. Legitimate work-from-home opportunities get a lot of interest from job seekers, and companies need information about applicants to find people who are the best fit. If the person on the other end doesn’t care about your background, consider that a big red flag.
Protect yourself: If you’re getting a great offer that doesn’t ask you to provide any information about who you are or why you’re a good fit for the company, the offer may be too good to be true.
- Only work with companies you can verify. You may not know every name in your industry, but thanks to the internet, you should be able to learn about companies easily online.
Protect yourself: When in doubt, do your research. Check to see if the organization is listed with the Better Business Bureau or is easily found in a Google search. Do they have a legitimate website? Are they active on social media? Can you find information from real employees, contractors, or customers?
Keep in mind that reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Facebook aren’t always reliable. Don’t trust a single source. You’ll need to look at multiple sources—the company’s website, blog, LinkedIn profile, BBB listing, and so on—and come to your own conclusion.
Most important: trust yourself and your instincts when trying to avoid work-from-home scams. If something seems suspicious, do your due diligence and you’ll know if a company or job is worth looking into.
Liveops maintains an A+ rating with the BBB and is proud to be listed on the FlexJobs top 100 companies for remote work. Check out our opportunities.