Being a military spouse can often be a full-time job in and of itself: with frequent moves to other states or even countries, caretaking of children – often alone for long stretches of time – and handling the management of other affairs, many spouses don’t have the time or the means to work outside the home. As such, work-from-home options are highly attractive since they can be performed at any location, and can conform to any schedule. Unfortunately, navigating the work-from-home arena is fraught with scams, schemes, and cons that can sometimes be difficult to spot. The following is a quick review of common tactics, and some advice on how to spot them before you become a victim.
Job Screening Scams
When you’re looking to work from home, it can be tough to find the right position. Many people are aware that there are scams out there and want to try to avoid signing up for a fraudulent opportunity. However, even trying to be careful can sometimes lead you into a trap. Through the use of search engines, scammers will advertise for supposed “pre-screened” lists of work-from-home jobs that have weeded out scams and promise to pay well. These ads pop up when searchers specifically look for legitimate, scam-free employment opportunities. The sites require a fee before presenting any lists, but promise to refund the money if the user doesn’t land a job. Unfortunately, after sending in the payment, the money is gone, victims are locked out of their accounts on the site, and they never see a list of jobs or their promised refund.
Starter Fee Scams
Whether it’s a job assembling craft furniture, stuffing envelopes, entering data, or selling home goods by driving traffic to a website, any job that requires an up-front fee or the purchase of starter materials is most likely run by a scammer. With these offers, new hires are expected to send in a check or wire money ranging from $100 to thousands of dollars in order to register, receive training materials, software, or the necessary materials to do the job. The problem is that once the check for this fee is cashed, the promised materials never arrive and the victim is left with no job and with less money than they began.
Perhaps most notorious and most dangerous, the pyramid scheme, while tantalizing, is something to be mindful of when searching for at-home employment. Pyramid schemes are described as a form of investment in which each paying participant recruits further participants, with returns being given to early members using money contributed by later ones. These illegal schemes are often presented as legitimate businesses that provide mentorship, education, or training to members. However, if you are asked to recruit new participants and offered compensation for doing so, and you note that no real product is being offered, you’ve likely found a scheme.
With all the scams circulating out there, how does someone who is looking for a work-from-home job navigate the options? The number one rule is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any job or opportunity that touts a “get rich quick” method is simply not real. The only people who profit from such endeavors are the criminals. Here are few other tips to help you spot a potential scam:
- Consider the source. If you’ve seen a posting for a job on the side of the road, in a spam email, or in an ad on the margins of a search engine, be highly skeptical of its legitimacy. Anyone can post a job, but until you’ve researched an opportunity thoroughly, don’t sign up.
- Don’t pay fees or dues up front. Unfortunately, while this may limit the number of opportunities you consider, it’s a good idea to cross these jobs off your list early. Having to pay money to another employee or member, or even pay a “starter fee” is highly indicative that you may be looking at a pyramid scheme, or at the very least, a scam where the so-called employer will simply take your money and run.
- Verify the business. Before you sign on with any work-from-home opportunity, it pays to do your homework and verify that the business is registered or licensed with the proper authority. You can check with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, or the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Once you’ve verified the legitimacy, it’s also wise to run the company name by the Better Business Bureau to ensure there haven’t been any serious complaints or issues.
Working from home is a great option for a military spouse, but one where you need to be on guard and watchful to ensure that your family will truly benefit from your hard work.