Oct 27, 2021
Work-from-home scams have been around since the early 1900s, but they’ve become harder to spot in today’s digital world. Though you might think of work-from-home scams as typical ‘get rich quick’ schemes, scammers have pivoted to targeting individuals looking for real remote jobs.
Global Workplace Analytics believes that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
At MakeMyMove, we closely monitor trends surrounding remote work, and Evan Hock, Co-Founder of MakeMyMove, believes that “with the increasing amount of people searching for remote work opportunities, it’s important workers know what signs to look for that might signify a potential remote job is really a scam.”
Below, you can see a brief history of typical work-from-home scams, learn about newer remote work scams, and uncover crucial red flags to help you avoid becoming a victim of cybercriminals.
Keep that smile on your face while you're searching for jobs by knowing the signs of remote work scams.
Typical work-from-home scams offer great positions and pay but require little skill or experience.
As you’re browsing work-from-home opportunities, AARP lists these signs that a position is most likely fake:
The advertisement claims no skills or experience are required
It claims to offer high pay for little or no work
A company promises that a business opportunity is surefire and will pay off quickly
You’re required to pay upfront for training, certifications, directories, or materials
Additional red flags of common work-from-home scams include:
Glaring grammatical or spelling errors
You can’t find information about the company online
There are warnings about the company online
An email address without a clear company name
Looking to join the remote workforce? Stay safe while job searching by knowing the signs of new remote work scams.
Above, we’ve listed common red flags to be aware of as you browse opportunities, but with the demand for remote work, scammers have gotten more complex.
One way cybercriminals are implementing these scams is pretending to be a legitimate company on online job boards. Here’s what this type of remote work scam looks like, according to the FBI:
The scammer creates an email address or website similar to a legitimate company’s website (e.g. Facebook).
Applicants apply via a job board or directly on the spoofed company’s website.
The criminals reach out via email and conduct false interviews with applicants, usually via teleconferencing.
The applicant may talk to several different ‘departments’ during the interview process, including recruiters, talent acquisition, human resources, and more.
During the application process or after they offer a position, the scammers request personally identifiable information—like driver’s licenses, Social Security Numbers, bank information, etc.
This information is used to either take over an applicant’s accounts, open new financial accounts, or use the victim’s identity for another scam.
As the FBI mentions, “the cybercriminals executing this scam request the same information as legitimate employers, which can make it difficult to identify a hiring scam until it is too late.”
Uncover similarities between fake remote work job postings.
Unlike more traditional work-from-home schemes, it can be harder to spot these new remote work scams. But there are still some similar things you can do to check the job listing:
Think twice about any listing with a lot of grammatical errors.
Look into the organization to see what reviews you can find.
Make sure the URL of the organization you’re applying to is actually the URL of the company.
Example: Make sure you’re applying to makemymove.com, NOT makemymovellc.com
If someone contacts you through a listing on a job site, check that it’s from a business email. Then check that the end of the business email is the correct URL.
For example: firstname.lastname@example.org not email@example.com
You've been offered an interview for a remote work position. How do you protect yourself now?
Very legitimate-looking job postings on popular websites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed can still be scams.
So, if you’ve been offered an interview with a company, what can you do to make sure you aren’t scammed during the process?
Here are some tips we’ve pulled together from the FBI’s press release, along with reading several stories of people being scammed.
When a career consultant went hunting for employment scams, she found some of the business numbers listed by her contacts went straight to a generic computer-automated message. The business name was not listed, and there was no way to get to a live person.
And as we mentioned above, double-check that you’re emailing someone with a business address instead of a personal email.
One freelance editor was interviewed through an app called Telegram, which she says “should have been her first red flag.” A Supply Chain Manager we spoke to took a voice interview for a fake position through the encrypted app WhatsApp. A person seeking a remote tech writing gig first became suspicious when his interview took place via text on Google Hangouts.
The FBI suggests you might be suspicious of an interview if you cannot talk to someone in-person or through a secure video call. Also, you might be wary of teleconference applications that only require an email address instead of a telephone number.
Your interview is going great. You’re nailing those questions. Then, they ask you for your credit card information, banking information, or other personal information to ‘verify’ who you are before proceeding with the process.
What do you do?
One Supply Chain Manager went through a series of interviews with a fake company. In the final interview, the company offered to outfit his home office (see our next tip for more on this) and requested his bank information to give him money for the new products. He quickly realized this had been a setup because they named his bank BEFORE he had told them the name. With that, he stopped the interview.
At the end of one almost-victim’s interview, the scammer informed him that he’d be sending him a check to purchase some home office equipment. After some digging, the applicant realized the incoming check was fake. The interviewer was trying to get him to reveal his banking information by showing him a receipt of the deposit of the phony check. You can read the full story here.
The FBI also lists “potential employers requiring employees to purchase start-up equipment FROM the company” as a red flag.
Alright, you know you bombed the interview, but you still got the job. That’s great, right? Or, maybe you’re happy because while you’re talking to them on your first interview, they’ve offered you the position. It’s time to celebrate, isn’t it?
One person who shared her story on Medium said that during her interview she avoided an interviewer’s personal questions that she felt were inappropriate, like “Do you have a credit card? What phone provider do you use? Is your phone prepaid or postpaid?”
After the interview finished, the company offered her the job within only a few minutes. The next question the scammer sent her — “What company do you bank with so we can verify payment?”
Dig deeper into the company if you know the interview went poorly (or it isn’t even over) and they’re asking you for your personal information.
Browse MakeMyMove's remote work and moving resources.
We recently put together a list of over 100 companies offering remote work positions, and we hope it helps you on your job search!
Once you have your new remote work position, you’re ready to live and work anywhere! Some places are paying remote workers to live there. So if you’re ready to make a move, these communities are ready for you.
For moving inspiration, check out these Cute Houses in Places that Will Pay you to Move There or read through Our Guide to Moving While Working Remotely.
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