Dear Working Wise:
I have a good part-time job, but I’m looking for a way to supplement my income. My options are limited due to family commitments and a lack of a car. I was thinking about applying for one of those online jobs I keep seeing, but many seem to require money up front or the need to create a web site. How can I analyze how safe it is to get involved with one of these Internet jobs? Signed, Cautious
You are right to be wary. The Internet is filled with work-from-home scams masquerading as real jobs and business opportunities.
Job scams made the Southern Alberta Better Business Bureau’s top-10 list of most common scams in 2010.
Top 10 Red flags to watch for:
1. They want money up front;
2. You don’t have a good feeling about it;
3. Vague job title, duties and compensation;
4. Job offer is a spam e-mail or a web-banner advertisement;
5. You are required to repackage items sent to you and ship them abroad;
6. Company is hard to identify, locate, or contact via telephone and e-mail;
7. They want your Social Insurance Number or banking information right away;
8. Unprofessional: poor grammar, spelling, web design, webmail e-mail address;
9. You are required to transfer or wire money out of your personal bank account; or
10. Too good to be true: guaranteed big money, no risk, no skill or experience needed.
Don’t buy yourself a job—Beware if they ask for money up front for things like application fees and mailing lists or to purchase instructions, materials or equipment.
Research the company—Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints. Try to talk to someone who used to work for the company and find out what it’s really like. Perform an Internet search for the company’s name or your recruiter’s name to see what pops up.
Avoid common job scams—Avoid becoming a statistic by checking out theCouncil of Better Business Bureaus web page on the most common online work-from-home scams at http://www.bbb.org/us/article/work-at-home-schemes-408.
One common scam is the Secret Shopper. Legitimate mystery-shopper companies exist, but some fraudsters use this type of employment to steal your identity or your cash. Check out the Service Alberta Secret Shopper Consumer Alert at www.servicealberta.ca/548.cfm.
Create your own work from home job—Technological advances, and potential cost savings, are making more companies open to the idea of employees working from home. If you really want a second job where you can work from home, you might want to try applying for traditional jobs that you can do from home and then pitch the idea of telecommuting.
For more tips on preventing fraud, check out the Central and Northern Alberta Better Business Bureau’s 10 Red Flags You Are Being Scammed at http://edmonton.bbb.org/article/10-red-flags-you-are-being-scammed-16627.
March is Fraud Prevention Month with a focus this year on online scams. For tips and information on Fraud Prevention Month, visit Alberta Community Crime Prevention at www.accpa.org or the Competition Bureau Canada at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.