Avoiding Telecommuting and Work at Home Scams

Your children are finally old enough that they’ll spend some time occupying themselves, or each other, and you might just be able to accomplish some real work. You decide to start searching the Internet for jobs that you can do from home. The job doesn’t have to pay a lot. It’s not for career building. It is simply to give you something to do and maybe you’ll earn some extra cash to help pay the bills.

Once you begin your search, you will find out that there are alot of folks out there who are looking to make money by taking your money–and giving you little or nothing in return. Apparently, stay-at-home moms who want to become work-at-home moms are excellent targets—if they weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many scams.

So how do you find the job you want (or need) without getting scammed? Here are a few things you can do:

First, do not pay for a job. That means don’t pay to become a member of a job board (most of them are getting their information from free job boards that you can search on your own and pay nothing); don’t pay $5, $10, $12 (I actually had one tell me they wanted $125 to ensure that I was a legitimate applicant) or whatever “small training fee” they tell you they “have” to charge because you’ll be handling confidential information or because they need to make sure you’re a serious candidate or they have to make sure you’re not scamming them or whatever line they’ve decided to try and feed you to send that small fee to them; and don’t pay for subscriptions for services until you actually have a job and are positive you need them.

You should be aware, though, that some positions (tutoring elementary and high school students, for example) may require that you go through a background check. That’s a legitimate charge. The employer, however, should state up front that you are paying for a background check. You can ask the employer who the background check is done through to see if the fee is, in fact, reasonable. For example, the FBI web site that provides instructions on obtaining a background check for employment states the fee they charge for the check (currently, that fee is $18). If you are an independent contractor, the employer may ask you to request the background check yourself and have the information sent to them.

Second, don’t be desperate; scammers will use it against you. If they’re telling you that you’d better hurry and send in money for training or jump on the opportunity immediately without checking them out, you probably should think twice about the job. Recruiting workers (including independent contractors) is expensive, and companies that are worth working for will make sure that they like you–and you like them. They won’t have a problem with you taking a reasonable amount of time to research and consider the position.

You’ve heard this before, and no matter how much you wish it wasn’t true, it is. You will not be able to work part-time doing legitimate work and make $10,000 a month. You will not be able to work eight hours a week and make a full time salary. You will not make $100,000 a year at a job that requires absolutely no experience.

Now that you know what not to do, what do you do? Search—a lot. If you search the large national job boards, use the keywords “work from home,” “work at home,” “home office,” “telework,” and “telecommute” to narrow your searches. There are also some job boards that are more specific to work-at-home jobs. There are a few of the free job boards that seem to have a fair quantity of listings for telecommuting and work at home jobs that aren’t scams (which doesn’t mean they are totally scam-free or that they don’t have links to scam sites, they’re just better than others). There are also several boards (like World Wide Work at Home) that include links to other job web sites as well as legitimate employers who have telecommuting and work-at-home positions.

Be persistent in searching and diligent in putting together good responses, and you will find scam-free work that you can do from home!