You’ve seen the emails: “Get Paid $5,000 Weekly” or “Make $20,000 a Month Working From Home.” Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.
As a smart freelancer you know these scams aren’t for real, but how frustrating it can be when you’re trying to scout out legit projects without the unrealistic expectations attached. You want real work. From a real company or individual.
So why are we so inundated with work at home scams?
Because so many people fall for them! These are nothing new — remember the snake oil salesman? In 1917 Clark Stanley was able to fool people with his rattlesnake oil that supposedly cured ailments like arthritis. There was actually a real version brought into the U.S. from Chinese immigrants, but his solution didn’t have a drop of snake oil in it. Eventually the U.S. government caught up with him and his business was shut down.
When we are looking to increase our income this can place us in a more vulnerable position — and there are subtle predators out there who actually appear like a real business.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren run an integris website, Rat Race Rebellion, which helps people find real work at home. In an article on NPR Durst explains, “You have to understand that part of their sales process, when you first get that phone call from them, they are digging into your head. And if you’re not aware of what’s happening, it’s very subtle. It’s almost subliminal.”
While this may all seem daunting it’s not entirely out of reach to find a good fit for your freelance or independent contractor career. Here’s how to spot the scams and find the right jobs:
Run far from businesses asking for payment
If the opportunity only comes with a fee then this is a big red flag to not even respond to a company like this. You might be asked things like paying for training, a membership or application fee, purchasing inventory, ect. While there may be instances where special equipment is required a quick demand for payment is a big clue that this is a scam.
Do not cash a “mystery shopper” check
You may have received a check in the mail with a large sum of money in order to get started as a secret shopper. The FBI warns that the trick with this type of scheme is to get you to deposit the check into your account, and then withdraw the funds for shopping with a promise of a small percentage to be kept as payment. A counterfeit check like this may get missed by a bank, and then you are on the line for the amount.
Find out what type of work is being offered
When looking to add part-time income you may have been checking out a variety of sources. But there is a most-commonly known list to be aware of that is used by scammers. According to Monster the top four occupations to avoid are:
- Envelope stuffing
- At-home assembly
- Medical billing
- Refund recovery
Monster points out that you are more likely to find legit work with companies hiring customer services workers like 1-800 Flowers and Amazon. Also, a good business will offer to pay you, and not ask for you to pay them to get started as I mentioned earlier. You can find out more information on how to spot a bad business directly through the FTC as well.
Fact check the business online
Like a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” there are companies that pose like a real business hiding behind the veneer of a website that appears professional, but after further digging you’ll soon discover they are ripping off a lot of people. If you receive an email you can look up their website on Google. To go along with that check to see if the link looks suspicious — find out whether they have stolen another business’s identity. You can also find this information on the BBB with their Scam Tracker page.
Never give out your personal information
In order to apply for a position you are not required to give a business your social security number, driver’s license, and credit or debit card information. If you are still in the process of discovery with a company by no means do not provide your address, phone number, and email without making sure they are the real deal. It can be tempting to provide this in an online form, but do your homework first before giving out this information.
As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true it usually is. With that said, you can improve your chances of finding legit work by going directly through major job websites like Jobungo, Craigslist, Amazon, LinkedIn, Zip Recruiter, and Glassdoor and do a search for freelance, work-at-home, and independent contractor positions.
Other ways to make extra income is by starting a blog, selling on places like Etsy, Amazon and Ebay, freelance graphic design, freelance writing, surveys, eBook publishing, virtual assistant work, consulting, or teaching. For a full list of ideas head on over to Celebrating Financial Freedom.
It’s not hard to find work online as a freelancer or independent contractor. Just download my free eBook, and get started on your career today: