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Are you letting the fear of online scams stop you from starting your work-at-home life?
No one likes getting scammed, but the internet is rife with scammers preying on anyone who will click on their ads. They don’t discriminate — elderly people, stay-at-home moms, the unemployed, and pretty much anyone can fall prey to scammers!
My team and I have heard a lot of stories from students who’ve dealt with work-from-home scams in the past. People have been sucked in by everything from envelope stuffing to pyramid schemes. If you don’t see ’em coming, they can really burn you!
There are so many work-from-home scams — and scammers — that it’s downright hard to see the good stuff hiding in the gigantic sea of garbage.
It happens all the time! But if you know how to spot these scams, you’ll protect yourself from getting caught in them.
So how can you know when a training course or job opportunity is a scam? How can you separate the facts from the crap? Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Tip #1: They make lofty promises.
If the opportunity seems too good to be true, chances are it’s a scam. Building a career working from home takes hard work, so if this opportunity promises a lot of money for little work, steer clear!
It’s often a sure sign of a scam when a program guarantees you’ll make money just by purchasing it.
With my Proofread Anywhere courses, while I do guarantee you’ll have all the tools, resources, practice, and support you’ll need to work as a proofreader, I will never, ever put a blanket guarantee you’ll earn money simply by taking the course.
That’s the key.
Taking a course — any course, for that matter — will never automagically turn you into an overnight money-making success. You need to put the work in to see results.
When it comes to job offers, if they’re offering you a huge amount of money for what seems like very little work, chances are it’s a scam.
If this offer were really true, then everyone would be going for it. Go with your gut!
Tip #2: They don’t respond to your emails.
If you’re considering work-from-home training or an opportunity of any sort, whether it’s an eBook, a course, or even some kind of franchise, make sure you get to know the person behind the product.
Before purchasing, always send an email or make a call (if possible) to the person in charge. I actually ask people to email me if they have questions or just want to tell me “Hi!” — and I get tons of emails each day from people who are just floored by this. But to me, it’s part of the job (my favorite part, actually!). My door is open, and anyone trying to sell you something as pivotal as an online course or a franchise should always be available to help.
Now if you email someone selling something and you don’t get an answer, there is the possibility your email went to spam. Still, look the person up on Facebook, find them on LinkedIn, whatever you need to do, but get in touch with them. They should make contacting them very easy. If it’s hard to find a contact form, that’s not a good sign. If you email several times with no response, that’s likewise not a good sign of a professional person behind the snazzy website.
Tip #3: They do respond, but it sounds fishy.
A lot of times, scammers do respond to your emails, and they’re slick and suck you right in with their sales patter.
That’s the nature of working online. You don’t always know who you’re working with. There are nasty people out there who hide behind their screens and prey on people who are desperate to change their lives for the better.
They might want to interview you on Google Hangouts, and when on the call, ask you for personal information they wouldn’t need to know. Red flag!
Or they might claim to be from a big company, but their email address or website URL doesn’t quite add up. Red flag!
Or they might say they want to hire you, but first you have to buy all of this tech equipment up front and they’ll reimburse you. Huge red flag!
Or those multi-level-marketing programs where you have to buy the “starter kit” of information plus inventory — with money from your own pocket — before you’re even allowed to sell anything and make a profit.
I rarely, if ever, recommend getting involved in MLMs. It’s not that I think they’re scams, although some of them are. The people who make the most money with MLMs are the ones who treat it like a recruiting company. They get their friends, family, and strangers to sign up as salespeople. The ones who simply sell the MLMs’ products are rarely the ones making big money.
I’m not telling you all this to scare you. I’m telling you all this to empower you. Armed with a sixth sense for scams, you can avoid them all.
Tip #4: They claim EVERYONE can benefit from their program or product.
Working at home isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work.
If you’re on a website that tells you working from home is everyone’s ticket to everlasting life or freedom, get off that site! Scammers prey on people by painting their product to be the perfect picture of the easy way out; they want you to believe it’s the magic pill.
On the other hand, if you find a site that’s up front with what they offer, includes actual warnings and “disqualifiers” (i.e. “You know you’re not a good fit for this if…” or “You actually have to work to be successful” statements), and clearly isn’t trying to hide anything, you’ve likely landed on something worthwhile.
Let me give you an example of some disqualifying language straight from the enrollment page for my general proofreading online course:
Enrolling in a course doesn’t entitle you to success. This isn’t a get-rich-quick course. Proofreading isn’t a world where you go through a course and then have clients waiting for you at the end. It takes time and a lot of hard work to build a business. It’s rewarding, for sure — but if you’re not up for it, just don’t enroll. I mean it — if you’re just looking for something to rush through and then refuse to put in the effort to build a quality reputation in the proofreading world, turn around now! This course isn’t for you.
See what I mean? Even on a sales page — which is designed to sell — there should always be honest language like this.
Tip #5: The Job Description Is Very Vague
If the job description doesn’t provide any details you’d normally find in a legitimate job description, it’s probably not a real job.
Employers or clients advertising for help are usually pretty specific when they advertise a role. They want to make sure they find the right person, so they use language that will disqualify unsuitable candidates.
If they try to rope you into doing work without clear instructions or expectations, chances are they’re trying to get you to work for free. Run; don’t walk!
Tip #6: They’re Pressuring You to Say Yes
In a normal situation, if you don’t say yes pretty quickly or you don’t seem interested, an employer or potential client will just move on and find someone else.
If the person is pressuring you for a response or telling you stories of how other people worked with them and became super rich overnight, this is a major red flag.
Take your time. Look for reviews or try to talk to other people who have experience with the company.
Don’t jump in just because they’re saying the offer is expiring.
To Sum It Up:
While internet scams are everywhere, there are worthwhile opportunities too. Knowing what to look for to determine whether something is a scam is critical to avoiding heartbreak and wasted cash — and it’s super helpful in identifying legitimate work-at-home information as well.
Legitimate opportunities don’t make lofty promises and make it clear that you’ll actually have to work to succeed. You should be able to easily get in touch with the owner of the company or a member of his/her team to get answers to your questions. If they do respond to your emails, look out for red flags in what they say.
Lastly, the sales page or job description shouldn’t be littered with the colorful stuff designed to dazzle and pull in anyone and everyone — it should also include disqualifying language, warnings, and clear disclaimers to weed out people who aren’t a good fit. If you check an opportunity against the tips in this section, you can safely proceed.
Proceed with caution, but proceed.
Now that you know the clear differences between scams and legit opportunities, you’re far less likely to waste precious time and money by falling prey to a scammer. Let that empower you to go forth on this journey with more confidence in yourself to choose wisely. In this case, knowledge truly is power!
I hope this blog post has eased your fears about scams. I want you to keep your eyes peeled for work-at-home scams, but I don’t want you to miss out on good opportunities by being too cautious. Think about it this way: What if it isn’t a scam? What if it’s the first step to a lifetime of change?
Still worried about falling prey to a scam? You’ll find more tips and tricks for spotting and avoiding work-at-home scams in my book Work at Home.