It’s a shame that there are so many people out there trying to rip off the work-at-home job seeker. It’s even more disheartening to see them targeting the stay-at-home mom, the retiree, and the disabled. But the fact remains; they’re out there trying to capitalize on your desire to stay home and earn an income. And they’re making good money while they’re at it, because there’s no shortage of people who want so badly to believe their claims of easy income and instant wealth.

Lynette Valdez, of Westbrook, Minn., thought that when she gave Pacific Webworks her debit card number last year, it was just for a $1.99 shipping and handling fee to get information about an at-home business offer supposedly connected with Google. But before long, she noticed two mysterious charges of $59.99 each on her card.

They took money out of my checking account twice, and I had to fight to get it back.  That’s a big amount of money for me.

Like most work-at-home scams, advertisements for them rely on a grain of truth and depend on the recipients’ willingness to believe the grandiose claims, said Minnesota attorney general’s office spokesman Ben Wogsland. With the state’s highest unemployment rate in 25 years, he said, “there are so many people who are desperate, who are vulnerable.”

So beware. You may be attracted by offers for these jobs that seem cheap or easy. But buried in the “terms and conditions” is the fine print allowing scamsters to tap into your bank account. Or the job might be misrepresented.

So how are we supposed to separate the scams from the real jobs? The legitimate business opportunities from the schemes?

Your number one guide should always be your common sense (why would a lawyer in South Africa select you to handle his billion dollar account, I mean let’s be honest!). There are always warning signs, and here are the top seven.

1. Advertisements for “envelope stuffing”, “mail processors” and “home typists”.

In all my experience in online recruiting, I have never come across a legitimate job for an envelope stuffer. Nor have I ever, in my life, met someone who was an envelope stuffer. (And could you really say with any measure of pride that you are a professional envelope stuffer?)

These advertisements are always the same. They charge you a certain amount of money so that they can send you detailed instructions of how to advertise for envelope stuffers. You’re selling the very same packet that you just paid 30 bucks for, but you only get $3. There’s no product, just their self-perpetuating ads to sell more $30 packets.

Home Typists? What company needs 5,000 home typists? If a company needs some typing done, they’re not going to advertise it on the internet where they’re going to get 10,000 replies. They’re going to hire an administrative assistant who can type a report and hand it to them- while greeting clients and answering the phones.

That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate Data Entry jobs available. Companies often find a need for specialized skills that can be done by a freelancer on a contract basis. Some examples would be database work, research projects and seasonal billing needs. But the key is that they involve a specialized skill that their existing employees don’t have.

2. They’re asking for a fee.

If it’s supposed to be a job, how on earth do they justify charging a fee? I’ve seen ads that say, “We have to charge a fee to make sure that you’re serious”. Why don’t they just post their job on E-Bay and give it to the highest bidder? Imagine going for an interview and the employer says, “Have a seat. Now, before we get started, I’m going to need $39.95 from you. We have to make sure you’re serious.” Would you pay them? Of course not! So why would you pay someone who is claiming to be hiring just because it’s on the internet?

Now, a business opportunity is different. You have to expect start-up costs for any business- but that’s a story for another day…

3. Job listings with typos and ALL CAPS.

These telltale signs should raise a flag right away. Do you really want to work for someone who can’t spell?

4. The job description says, “no skills or experience necessary!”

Really? Why not just have their kids do the job for 50 cents an hour? Managing remote employees is extremely challenging. Employers who hire and supervise telecommuters want highly skilled, experienced employees that they can trust. They have to be confident that they can perform their jobs with little or no supervision. This is why most telecommuters are required to work on-site for a certain period of time before they’re allowed to work from home.

5. Vague or non-existing job description.

The more vague a job listing is, the more likely it is to be a scam. There’s nothing more aggravating to a recruiter than getting bombarded by resumes from unqualified candidates. This is why most legitimate job listings read like a novel. They want to be sure that only the ones that meet their criteria respond.

This leads me to an important bit of advice for telecommute job seekers. Never, ever respond to a job listings that you are not fully qualified for. I spend a lot of time recruiting companies that have telecommute policies to post at my site. Many of them are reluctant to post their listings online because they are inundated with responses from people who aren’t remotely qualified. It gives all of us a bad reputation and cuts down on the number of jobs that are advertised. I just can’t stress enough how important this is.

6. No contact information.

If you can’t reach someone to ask a question, or ask for a reference, then there’s something wrong. A real employer wants to get the position filled, and if you are qualified, they want to convince you to work for them. You should be able to reach them (or someone in their company at least) directly.

And the number one sign of a scam:.

7. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A case in point: A company posted a job listing for U.S. Representatives. Seems they needed people to accept shipments of computers and electronics and then ship them to international destinations. They were offering an outrageously high salary and reimbursement for shipping. They allegedly had offices in the United States, so why would they need John Smith in Hoboken, New Jersey to handle their shipping? Sounds fishy, right? It was. They had people ship the computers all right, but never paid them.

Many people rely on the website that carries the listing to screen out fraudulent listings, but the truth is that most of them don’t have the resources to screen every post. In fact, most sites carry a disclaimer stating that it is the job seeker’s responsibility to screen potential employers.

The bottom line is that you should let common sense be your guide. If something seems not quite right, don’t bother. At the very least, check out any company thoroughly before making any commitment.

Below are some excellent resources:



The Better Business Bureau

The Federal Trade Commission

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7 Responses to “The Seven Signs of a Work At Home Scam”

  1. Trent says:

    Hey Sharon, thanks for the great post! Yep those are definitely some sure signs of a work at home scam. I am sure you will help lots of people avoid them if they read this post first.
    .-= Trent´s last blog ..How To Improve Your Time-Management Skills With Micro-Planning =-.

  2. This is so true about the envelope stuffing scam. If you could make millions of dollars each and every year then why isn’t everyone envelope stuffing. It is merely a scam to take your money and then they will move on to the next unsuspecting victim. There are handful of real online jobs out there, but as you suggested there are some huge red flags, contact information, all caps, ect. I would also like to add that if a site is brand new their is a possibility that it is too good to be true. You can easily check any site by going to

    However, if you are seeking real telecommute jobs I would highly recommend that you do your research on a site before handing over your hard earned money.

    Also, in addition to sites you could check for scam related material I would like to add to you list of sites you could check for the authenticity of a site.

    Anyways, nice blog, you have a lot of interesting information on here. I will be browsing around :)
    .-= Anna Alden-Tirrill´s last blog ..You Can Bring Your Job To Home Permanently =-.

  3. Pastorkayte says:

    This is by far some of the most needed information for those who work from home. Since starting my work at home journey back 6 years ago I may have tried quite a few of these scams, now I write for a couple companies and I have 48 blogs that I manage, and doing very well doing it. My advise is even though you run into scams (anyone reading this) dont give up, working from home is just too awesome.

  4. This is a great site and should be advertised on employment sites
    Since so many people are out of work and will spend their last $40.00 in hope of a miracle!! I have 2 stores on line but never sell anything because they are free sites and not advertised very well. I was researching information in hope of learning the magic answer to my problem. I want to stay home to work as my spouse has had a hard 2 yrs and & I was his caregiver. Now he’s better so I spend hours researching. I know there are people who sell on line(Not ebay)I did that for 2 years and gave my items away between the bid and the fees and ship/handling. I love the posting and try to learn all I can learn about the site.
    If I find the magic wand I will return and share with everyone.LOL

  5. Kyle says:

    This was sent to me and every day I am getting these desperate messages for my attention. What kinda nutty employer persues an applicant??? I mean really??? NO employer chases an applicant to sign up for anything! Here is the email I get daily when and while I was job hunting…I applied for Admin/Secretary Job and instead get this! Where from Craig’s List!!
    Most of their employers seeking applicants for hire are fake crooks!!

    Mark Riggs here.

    We’ve been running TV ads in your area because we still are
    looking for applicants in Marietta who may be interested in the
    positions that we have available in the 30066 portion of Marietta.

    All you have to do is confirm your mailing info that we currently
    have on file. There is absolutely no cost to you to receive this
    information packet in the mail and you can start making money with
    us by next week.

    Please confirm with us that the info we have on file for you is

    Asking for my verified mailing address… Let me tell ya OLE Craig’s List is full of them! So many many bogus ads for jobs that you can think of, or you are told the position is no longer available but the employer has or will have a “mystery shopper” vacancy! Give me a break!
    I understand what that is according to their descriptions, but to me it sounds like another thought…sounds like glamourizing shoplifting! LOL!! It makes me sick with these jerks constantly invading your email account with desperate pleas for attention.

    First of all, when i did share my mailing address only…why do this fool need to me click on the link to verify… I don’t want it anyway, it’s BS thru and thru. No, don’t give someone your money or social security number, nor a fake credit check. When you are going thru an interview process in person, a credit check is not done prior to meeting an applicant. Second, if you do get a credit check link sent to you…”hello” when you log onto these referred sites they want you to use…big notable difference..none of the links are accessible and there is a link that appears broken saying, “Under construction!” LOL!! CREEPS! I don’t give money, no social security numbers given out and you don’t pay an employer, you are to be paid!!!

    In order to confirm this, you must click on the link below and re-
    enter it on our webpage, as we cannot send out your package
    unless you do. Please do not send us back a reply email with your
    info; as you must confirm it on our webpage.

    Once you do this you’ll receive your getting started package.
    Enclosed in the packet will be information on how to start
    earning money with us immediately. We have both part-time and
    full-time postions that we are trying to fill in Marietta so be
    sure to confirm with us today because they are going fast.

    Also, if you’re no longer at this address, still feel free to
    visit our registration page and we can mail your packet to your
    new address.

    Just go to our registration site here to verify your shipping

    (If you’re not able to click on the link, simply copy and paste it
    into your web browser and it’ll come right up)

    We’re looking forward to working with you Kyle.

    Your fre e info package is waiting…

    Your Helper,
    Mark Riggs

  6. sharon says:

    I get them too Kyle, every day. It’s an identity theft scam….they’re just looking to gather your personal information. You’re absolutely right that a traditional, in-person job interview would never involve gathering this kind of information. Trust your instincts and hit that delete button.

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