4 Tips To Avoid Work-From-Home Email Scams

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Chelsea P. Gladden is the Director of Marketing & PR for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that also offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedules.

It’s no secret that jobs that allow you to work from home are on the rise, but as their popularity grows, so do inventive ways to dupe job seekers. Get-rich-quick offers and promises of lots of money for very little work should immediately put your guard up. If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with what a standard job posting looks like.

Legitimate jobs are looking for specific skill sets and job requirements, and do not over-promise. Too many “$$$$” or “!!!!!” should forewarn you it’s not likely a trustworthy opportunity. As you pursue your dream of a “shoes optional” position, keep an eye out for these sneaky tactics.

1. Double-Check the URL

It’s your dream job, allows you to work from home and is from a reputable company (CNBC, for example) … or is it? Beware of URLs that can be misleading. In fact, you may think you are on CNBC’s site when you are actually on a bogus page made to look impressively similar to the real thing. Even worse? You have to have your detective eyes peeled when web addresses appear to be real, such as one caught recently “http://cnbc.com-index.in/.” Though it looks like a “.com” and gives the impression you are on a page within the CNBC site, it’s really a “.in,” that has nothing to do with the media company you assume you are applying to.

2. Be Wary of Names
After you’ve mentally prepared yourself to check whether a web address is legit, a company name can also be detrimentally deceiving. Just ask the FTC who stated in a press release that they had to mail $2.3 million refund checks to 93,086 consumers who purchased a $4 “work at home” kit, guaranteeing they would earn $100,000 in six months. Not stressed about losing $4? Though it is a delicious mocha or two, you should be concerned about the fact that scammers get your account information from that $4 charge and continue to charge it for $72 or so, every month. And the reason this particular scam was successful before the big bust-up was because the fake company names job seekers were applying with were sneakily misleading: Google Money Tree, Google Pro and Google Treasure Chest.

3. Don’t Pay Up
Be extremely wary if a company claiming to hire you would charge for anything. The purpose of getting a job is to earn money, not spend it. Triple check whom you are applying with if there is a charge at all, as the cons can get clever, telling you that you got the job, you just need to pay for a company-issued laptop. Even better? Past scams requested your bank account information to supposedly deposit money into your account to help you purchase a laptop or, in the case of the mystery shopper scam, fool you into cashing a fake check and then owing money to the bank.

4. Google It
One red flag for starters can be the contact you corresponding with. Is the email address legit, and is the company URL? Or, are you giving personal information to Generally, your new boss will have an email address associated with the company that is hiring you. But don’t let that satisfy you, either. Make sure you can get someone on the actual phone before accepting employment with them. Another recent scam was conducting interviews over IM. Similar to the fake email address, it’s very easy to create a fake IM account.

With an actual phone number and a company-associated email address, versus etc., you can Google the company and the word “scam” to do your homework as to whether anyone reported them yet. Remember, when you do accept employment, a company you are working for will need tax information from you, which will include very personal information. Do everything you can to ensure it is a legitimate opportunity and you have the information you need to successfully report them if anything is amiss in the process.


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