Because I am a Judgment Broker, and my successful work-at-home business is 100% online, I am online as often as a teenager. I have learned about a wide variety of work-at-home scams, and a few real (not a scam) work-at-home jobs.
In this article, “real” means there is a person, or a valid entity owning a company – that cheats no one, and provides a fair opportunity for a loan or for a job (without paying anything upfront), or for a contingency lead to possibly make money. A “fake” is when a person is hiding, or the company is not registered as being a valid company, or when their purpose seems to be, or is, to scam you.
Even when not a scam, work-at-home jobs are wildly different from regular “old-school” jobs. Work-at-home jobs are always more likely to be a scam than old-school jobs. Old-school “real” jobs (which technology and the Internet are destroying) are/were at a physical address, where you get a “regular” paycheck.
There is almost no reason to investigate an old-school conventional company that hires you. Companies such as Apple, Google, and many retail stores are not going away. Almost always, you can assume the checks they pay you will not bounce, you will be paid for your work, etc.
In a conventional job, if your boss gives you their private home phone number, you have no reason to fully investigate that phone number. What if your boss is Mr. Barney Rubble, and you decided to do some reverse-phone searching, and discovered his phone number seems to belong with a Mr. Billy Mountain, in another state.
If you confront your boss, Barney, and ask him why his phone number seems to belong with another name, your boss might tell you to get bent – or worse. Barney might think you invaded his privacy.
Most work-at-home jobs are scams in one way or another. Most work-at-home opportunities are online now, so most scams exist as web sites. If any work-at-home company requires too much of your time, without any chance of, or proof of, actually paying you – or wants any of your money upfront, you should investigate them fully. While there are a few real work-at-home opportunities, most are scams, in one way or another.
A few red flags, that work-at-home opportunities could be a scam, include: The company is based in Florida, there is no mailing address listed at all, their domain name is hidden by proxy, the emails do not come from the same domain name. None of these red flags mean the company is a scam, they are just some extra reasons to confirm they are not a scam. (My friend Derek Gray, who is an expert on scams, work-at-home companies, helped me with this article.)
The top 5 ways that work-at-home companies can scam you:
1) They want to charge you money upfront. Note that there is a reason to charge people upfront, to sort out the serious people from the tire-kickers. While my site, JudgmentBuy.com helps creditors for free, a lot of tire-kickers contact me, and maybe one day I will charge $5 for my expert judgment referrals. So money upfront is not a show-stopper if you get something in return for your money.
2) They could over-react (maybe even fire you) if you look up their phone, number or any other info about their company. If you search on the web and find something “funny”, a reputable work-at-home company will explain the reasons. Valid reasons include envious competitors, or a few crazy rabbits. If they over-react to your question, then the online things you read online might be at least partially true.
3) They do not pay you,or pay only though PayPal or Bitcoin, or pay you late, or pay you less than you should be paid.
4) They expect magic – they do nothing, and you must do everything. They had an idea, but you must do everything else. Perhaps they do not respond to any emails or calls, or do what is required to enable your work to pay off. Or, if you cannot work 18 hours a day and spam everyone, and maintain incredible luck, they get rid of you.
5) They disappear and abscond away, perhaps burning you, and all those you have contacted.
Some legitimate, reputable, and successful work-at-home companies are web-based, and have only a PO box. As an economy slides, more and more work-at-home scams will appear. It is ok to check them out much more carefully, than you would an old-school job. If they do not like it, then it is probably not a good fit for you. Lastly, 99% of the work at home jobs on Craigslist are scams.