Tips to Avoid Remote Work Scams

It’s no secret that over the last year many employers have attempted to shift part of their workforce to work-from-home or remote work status. This trend was already rising, but it received a large push in 2020. Now that parents have figured out how to better juggle working from home with family life many are dreading the days when office presence is once again a requirement.

I’ve worked remotely since 2015 and there are a few things I know for sure. First, not every virtual job is equal. Some offer paid time off, and benefits while others are strictly contract-based. Second, sometimes it’s best for overall job performance to work in an office environment. It’s not worth the opportunity to stay home if you have to work twice as long. Finally, there are a lot of remote work scams out there!

Every Job Has Pros and Cons

Transitioning to a job that allowed me to work remotely had huge benefits for my family. But I didn’t just jump into any job.

  • I was able to work more consistent hours or flex my time as my kids needed me around
  • I was able to increase my income as my capacity allowed
  • I was able to devote fewer hours to work overall and earn the same amount of money or more because I cut out travel
  • I was able to thrive in my sweet spot and use my God-given gifts and talents in new ways

Working remotely has a lot of benefits, but it also has some negatives to consider. Since your home and office are the same, you can work odd hours if you don’t set boundaries. My remote work is contracted and didn’t originally provide vacation or holidays off.

Once you decide to pursue remote work, you must vet any company you apply for, especially if you are working with a third-party service. There are many legitimate remote work opportunities. I keep a running list here. Regardless, you must stay alert to scams.

Here are My Tips to Avoid Remote Work Scams

If it Seems Shady: It is Shady

  • A company that has an odd website with bad grammar, vague information, or stock photos is one to avoid.
  • A company that gates content until you pay is definitely a scam.
  • If you can’t speak with someone over a video call then it’s time to move on.

They are Really Eager

  • If you didn’t apply with the company or a specific job but they want you to call them back immediately I’d pass unless you can speak with someone over video.
  • If they offer you an extremely high salary that isn’t realistic for the work you’re applying for I’d be concerned.
  • If they expect you to hand over confidential information immediately then for sure say no.

They are Vague

  • Some companies are vague about the actual job description.
  • Can they tell you who you would report to?
  • Will you have to use your own equipment and if so will they pay you for the inconvenience?

There is a difference between a company that is adjusting to hiring a remote workforce for the first time and a scam looking to access personal data from people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are in an interview. You are interviewing a company just as much as they are interviewing you!

The most common way people start out working remotely is by working as a virtual assistant, or with social media marketing. However, don’t be afraid to take the initiative before applying for jobs and adding certifications to your resume. Especially if you haven’t worked in an industry for long (or at all in a professional sense), it’s a great idea to show that you’re eager to learn.

The best way to avoid remote work scams is by seeking word-of-mouth recommendations. Join LinkedIn groups for networking and ask about legitimate company connections there. Finally, don’t be afraid to Google a company or person on BBB and see if anytime comes up. If someone else has been taken advantage of, I bet they have shared it on the internet!

Looking for Safe Third-Party Platforms to Job Hunt Through?

There are many options for remote work these days. In addition, many companies are willing to negotiate to keep people from leaving. So if you like your employer, it’s worth requesting a meeting to discuss remote work opportunities rather than encountering a remote work scam.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 3, 2020, and was updated in October 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.

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