Making money online is certainly trending these days. It is the future — and to some extent, the present — in an increasingly sharing-based economy. But with the opportunities come operators bent on making a quick buck off of the innocent and the naïve. Here are some of the most common work-from-home scams to watch out for:
- Online ad posting
- Email forwarding
- Assembly jobs
- Medical billing and data entry business
- Extra-low-income work-from-home jobs
1. Online Ad Posting
Posting ads online is one of the most common online job scams out there. How it works is that someone will offer to pay you money to copy and paste ads on other websites. You’ll often be asked to pay a fee to sign up, and the “ads” that you’re posting are just spam to promote what you’re doing so that other people will join to provide the company with more money.
2. Email Forwarding
This gig may be advertised as a “marketing” job, but it’s not. For example, a company may ask you to sign up to forward emails to other people on their behalf. They’ll most likely ask for a start-up fee so that they can send you “training materials” to get started. The training materials are often instructions for teaching others how to run the same scam in order for you to get paid.
Further Reading: Learn more about how to recognize ‘make money online' scams.
3. Assembly Jobs
Work from home assembly jobs require that you pay for a kit to put together a product or craft at home. Then you're supposed to send the finished product back to the company for payment.
The only problem? The company will claim to only accept top-quality items, and your assembled products will never meet the standards they're looking for.
Plus, you may even be asked to purchase some of their tools and equipment to make the items you assemble look and operate better.
4. Medical Billing and Data Entry Business
Medical billing and data entry online jobs aren’t always scams, but some companies will offer to “help” you start your own online business by purchasing start-up materials and software from them. Don’t fall for it.
Sherry King, a mom who works full-time at a community center, was excited to land what she thought was a great side hustle opportunity as a data entry specialist until the company asked her for money to get started.
“I was shocked when the company who ‘hired’ me asked me to pay for all my equipment and materials,” Sherry said. “They said I needed to pay for the materials so that the items would be in my name and not the company’s name. It just sounded fishy to me, and I decided not to move forward.”
5. Extra-Low-Income Work-From-Home Jobs
Sometimes, you will be able to make money with an online job, but the amount may be so low that it won’t even be worth it. This was the case with Nina, who found an online opportunity that allowed her to listen to and sort audio recordings.
“I did the work for several hours and only earned two cents, which was why I quit soon after,” Nina said.
How to Spot Work-From-Home Scams
Spotting work-from-home scams before it’s too late isn't too difficult, as there are several red flags to consider.
Words, phrases and sentences in all caps.
Companies and individuals with real job opportunities won’t post ads using words in all caps. If you see something like, “EARN MONEY FROM HOME!!! GET STARTED TODAY,” it’s probably a scam.
A job description promising that you’ll earn an insane amount of money quickly.
If you come across a job ad online that promises you’ll earn $500 or $1,000 per day, consider it a scam. If it were that easy to earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per day, everyone would be working online.
Further Reading: “If a Stay-at-Home Sales Gig Seems Too Good to Be True . . .”
Companies that require you to pay a fee to get started.
You shouldn’t have to pay a fee or purchase equipment to get hired by a company. They should supply you with equipment and provide training at no cost to you.
Companies that wish to remain unnamed.
If you can’t figure out the details of the company that created the job ad, proceed with caution; they may be trying to hide something. It’s important to know the name of the company you wish to work for so that you can perform your own research and see if they have any online reviews or a rating with the Better Business Bureau.
This is not to say that there aren’t legitimate and profitable online gigs available. Just make sure to avoid “employers” that are more interested in your wallet than your work.