In this June 19, 2017, file photo, a person types on a laptop keyboard in North Andover, Mass. The availability of remote work has increased significantly in recent years, giving rise to the ability for telecommuters to buck travel norms. Remote work has blurred the line between business and personal travel, affording workers the flexibility to extend trips to fly on cheaper days.
Associated Press | Elise Amendola
As kids head back to school, stay-at-home parents may be looking for ways to supplement income without set hours in an office. But those on the hunt should beware of scams and ensure companies are on the up and up.
The pandemic led to more people working from home and many discovering ample opportunities for remote work. But it also led to a spike in scams related to those types of jobs. The 2020 Better Business Bureau Employment Scams Report found the majority of those who filed complaints were unemployed women. Employment scams were up 27% from two years before and those who lost money in the scams were out more than $1000 each. In other instances, while no physical money was lost, job seekers had their identity stolen after giving personal information to fake companies in hopes of getting hired.
There are red flags for potential employees to notice when they see a job advertised online, on social media or in an email.
Checking the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, the majority of employment schemes seem to involve counterfeit checks. Many victims’ stories included a company sending a check to purchase equipment and supplies from a third party. Then, after a victim sends money, the original check either bounces or is withdrawn and the third party disappears. Job seekers should also be wary of offers that demand they pay for coaching or product before they can earn any money, even if the company claims reimbursement will follow.
While it may be a boost to someone’s ego, any company that is overly eager to hire them without proper interviews and references is suspect. A professional interview will include a Zoom session or at least a phone call, not simply texting or emailing questions. Legitimate job postings will have clear explanations of what a company does and the open position; vague descriptions shouldn’t cut it. And just like any other online scam, poor grammar, spelling and odd email addresses should cause concern.
People can trust their Spidey-senses when offered prospects of earning high pay for little or no work. These employment schemes will often claim there are no skills or experience required and will focus on maximum earning potential instead of initial pay. Sometimes companies will even use high pressure sales tactics to persuade prospective hires to accept a job.
But there are legitimate opportunities out there to work remotely to contribute to your family’s income.
Job search juggernauts like Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn all offer the ability to filter positions so that only remote ones pop up. But this can be overwhelming to some with dozens of pages of world-wide results filling the screen. Those using these hiring sites should be as specific as possible when searching for opportunities and also when filling out their resume to ensure only applicable offers are listed.
There are hiring sites that only offer postings that allow people to work from home or in a hybrid situation. It’s free to create a profile on Upwork and search for freelance work across nearly every industry. It will take out a 20% service fee from the first $500 earned, then a smaller percentage as earnings rise. Job seekers can also pay $14.99 per month to make themselves more visible on the platform. FlexJobs has more than 20,000 jobs listed and has a real person vet each posting to make sure it isn’t a scam. But job seekers will need to pay to use the full website by choosing access for one week for $9.95, one month for $20.95 or more for longer periods of time.
Maybe there is a company that a potential employee admires and wants to be part of. Many large companies are offering remote work and posting positions online. Amazon has virtual positions in some geographic areas with a majority in the full-time category. The company currently has listings for everything from a Designer in their gaming division to someone to help people who order medication through Amazon. Marriott is another example of a company with great options for remote positions. There are mainly full-time openings and a part-time payroll administrator position currently posted that’s fully remote and starts at $24 per hour.
Those searching for work-from-home jobs have plenty of opportunities out there, but need to take thoughtful steps to make sure they’re dealing with a legitimate company for the most successful remote work experience.
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