Dear Working Wise:
I am looking for a way to make a little extra money. I work part time and I’m saving for a new car. I was thinking about applying for one of those work-from-home jobs that I keep seeing on the Internet. Some seem too good to be true, though, and I’m worried they are a scam. How can I tell which are safe and which are not? Signed, Cautious
You are right to be wary. The Internet is filled with work-from-home scams masquerading as real jobs and business opportunities.
Top 10 Red flags to watch for:
1. They want money up front;
2. You don’t have a good feeling about it;
3. The job title, duties and compensation are vague;
4. The 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. The company is hard to identify, locate, or contact via telephone and e-mail;
7. Unprofessional: poor grammar, spelling, web design, webmail e-mail address;
8. You are required to transfer or wire money out of your personal bank account;
9. They want your Social Insurance Number or banking/credit information right away;
10. Seems too good to be true: guaranteed big money, no risk, no skill/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 the Council 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/mystery shopper. Legitimate mystery-shopper companies exist, but some fraudsters use this type of employment to steal your identity or your cash. Check out the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association’s web site at
http://bit.ly/A1Lcbx for more information on secret shopper and work from home scams.
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. For tips and information on Fraud Prevention Month, visit the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association at www.accpa.org and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.phonebusters.com.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.