20 Work-From-Home Job Scams and How to Spot Them

20 Work-From-Home Job Scams and How to Spot Them

The allure of working from the comfort of your home office has never been stronger. Remote work is booming, and flexible jobs with legitimate companies are available in nearly every field. However, along with the growth of legitimate remote jobs is an increase in remote job scammers waiting to pounce.

From promises of easy money to enticing job offers that turn out to be money laundering schemes, scammers are getting more advanced and crafty. Whether you’re a new graduate or a seasoned professional, it’s important to familiarize yourself with common remote job scams and the red flags to watch for to ensure a safe job search.

20 Common Remote Job Scams (WFH Job Scams)

Advanced technology is blending modern job scams with some that have been around for a while. Take a look at this list so you can recognize job scams when they pop up on your screen.

1. AI-Created Job Scams

With the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), job scams have taken on a new form, leveraging AI technology to create deceptive job postings, fake recruiters, and false company websites. This modern technology has made it challenging for job seekers to identify legitimate online job opportunities amidst the sea of sophisticated scams. Ensure you watch for unofficial email domains, job postings that do not appear on the official career page of the company, and unsecured communication channels.

2. Assembly Job Scams

Assembly job scams involve you receiving a package with materials, instructions, and promises of payment for assembling products. However, these packages are filled with cheap or defective items, and the promised payment never arrives. Being asked to pay for materials upfront or unrealistic payment for simple tasks is a common work-from-home scam.

3. Career Advancement Grant Scams

Are you looking to learn new skills or find an on-the-job training program? That’s great, except when you’re a victim of a scam that preys on job seekers looking to boost their professional qualifications. You might get an unsolicited email suggesting you apply for a grant from the government to advance your career. With the allure of financial assistance, many job seekers let their guard down and share sensitive information and “filing fees.”

4. Copycat Job Boards

Beware of job boards that ask for very personal information, such as social security numbers (SSNs) or bank account details, before showing you job listings. These are often copycat job boards created by scammers to collect personal information for identity theft purposes. Look closely at the URLs: is one letter off? Are there small variations from a legitimate job board? Remember, some legitimate job boards, like FlexJobs, require payment to access scam-free jobs, but a legitimate job board will never request your SSN or bank account information just to view job postings.

5. Cryptocurrency Scams

With the rise of digital currency, job offer scams might promise lucrative returns on cryptocurrency. Be cautious of jobs requiring you to handle or exchange cryptocurrency in the same way as any other currency. Job offers that include a request for money are always a red flag.

6. Data Entry Scams

Job offers for data entry jobs requiring fees or specialized software purchases should raise alarms. These deceptive opportunities commonly involve upfront payments for processing or training, and the actual compensation rarely aligns with the initial enticing offers. While legitimate data entry positions exist, they typically do not advertise exorbitant wages and do not demand any upfront financial investment from applicants.

7. Envelope Stuffing Scams

Like reshipping scams, envelope stuffing is an old scam that resurfaces occasionally. If you’re looking for remote work, you’re a prime candidate to run across employment scams like this. You might see advertisements for substantial earnings for a straightforward task. However, you send money, the work never arrives, and you’re out of the funds.

8. Equipment Purchase Scams

Some work-from-home job scams require purchasing expensive equipment or software before starting the job. These purchases are often unnecessary and simply a way for scammers to make money from unsuspecting victims. While you might be expected to use office equipment you already have, such as a computer or laptop, legitimate companies will provide any specialized equipment or software. You might be asked to sign an agreement stating that you’ll reimburse the company for the equipment if you don’t return it, but you shouldn’t be required to pay for it upfront.

9. Fake Government Job Offers

Beware of employment scams that involve fake job listings for government jobs. These fake government job postings demand that applicants pay a fee for applying or gaining access to information. It’s essential to recognize that authentic government agencies, like the post office, do not require fees from candidates for job applications or related services. Even if you find a government job posting on a legitimate job board, ultimately, you’ll be redirected back to an official government web page to complete your application.

10. Google Doc Scams

You might not think of Google Docs as particularly dangerous, but clicking on links to join or download exposes you to harmful links and viruses. Pay attention to the sender’s email address and any links included. Beware of job scams suggesting you can start earning money immediately, as legitimate jobs involve an interview and hiring process.

11. Indeed Scams

Indeed is one of the most extensive job searching sites, stretching globally. With millions of monthly visitors, it’s a lucrative platform for scammers to exploit. You might receive an email from a “potential employer” who advertises an attractive remote position and requests personal information, such as social security numbers and bank account details.

12. Job Coaching Schemes

Scammers posing as career coaches or employment specialists charge high fees for advice, resume writing, and job guarantees. Actual coaching services don’t guarantee jobs, and their services and costs are clearly described.

13. LinkedIn Job Scams

Scammers create fake profiles on LinkedIn to target job seekers and trick them into giving out personal information or sending money. Be wary of unsolicited messages from potential employers, especially if they ask for sensitive information or offer unrealistic job opportunities. LinkedIn is an excellent way to build your network, but stay vigilant just as you do with other online interactions.

14. Mystery Shopper Scams

One common job scam is the mystery shopper scam. While mystery shopping is a legitimate side gig, criminals try to trick you into giving away your money or sensitive information. The scammer will pose as an honest company offering mystery shopping jobs, asking you to pay a fee for training materials or to purchase items from specific stores. Remember, legitimate employers will never ask you to pay anything for a job opportunity.

15. Online Interviews You Never Applied For

Some job scams will come as invites for online interviews, claiming to have found your resume or profile on a job site. Be cautious of these unsolicited offers, and always verify the company’s legitimacy before agreeing to an interview. Moreover, do not give out personal information or pay any fees upfront.

16. Phishing Scams

Fake job postings are often used as bait to get sensitive personal information from unsuspecting applicants. Be wary of companies asking you to verify information before you’ve been through a legitimate hiring process. If something seems off, trust your instincts and do not provide any personal information.

17. Pyramid Schemes Disguised as Jobs

Job offers that are pyramid schemes requiring you to recruit others or make an initial investment should be approached with caution. Pyramid schemes usually promise unrealistic returns and are often illegal. In the end, money changes hands, but ultimately, there is no actual product to invest in.

18. Reshipping Scams

What’s worse than being a victim of a scam? Unknowingly becoming a criminal along the way. In a reshipping scam, you’re asked to receive and resend packages, which are often products purchased with stolen credit cards. This makes you an accomplice to the scammer’s illegal activities.

19. Social Media Recruitment Scams

Be cautious when responding to job offers on social media, as scammers can easily create fake profiles and job postings. Following companies on social media and connecting with hiring managers is an excellent way to be proactive in your job search. However, after your initial connection, the interview and hiring process should move from social media to more official channels.

20. Wire Transfer Scams

There are many different ways recruiter scams target you to launder money. At the heart of this scam is the movement of funds from one account to another. Fake job listings that require purchasing materials, kits, training materials, or equipment before starting work are some of the most common work-from-home scams.

15 Ways to Avoid Job Scams and Red Flags to Look For

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you realize how prevalent online job scams are. In fact, this list is only a small sample of the many work-from-home scams out there. Rest assured, there are plenty of legitimate remote jobs available. Familiarize yourself with job search red flags and best practices to ensure you stay safe and find ways to boost your career safely.

1. Verify the Company’s Identity

Before applying for any remote job:

  • Research the company to ensure that it is a legitimate business.
  • Check the company’s website, online presence, and reviews from past employees. If you can’t find information about the company or if something feels off, proceed cautiously.
  • Search for the company yourself, rather than click on links in the job description that might lead to fake sites.

2. Never Give Out Personal Information

Don’t get lulled into complacency. Remain vigilant with your personal information. A reputable employer will only ask for personal information (such as your social security number, bank account number, or copies of your ID) after you are hired. A fake employer asking for this information during the hiring process is one of the many job offer scams you might run into during your job search.

3. Be Wary of Unsolicited Job Offers

Getting contacted by recruiters who want to connect and ask if you’d be interested in submitting your application is exciting. It means your personal branding and networking are working. On the other hand, if you receive an email or message offering you a job you did not apply for, it could be a recruiter scam. Legitimate companies will have a formal application and won’t offer jobs on the spot before you’ve been through their interview process.

4. Watch Out for Vague Job Descriptions

Beware of job descriptions that leave you wondering what exactly you’d be doing. Even if there’s some grey area, legitimate companies hire to fill a specific need and provide clear job descriptions and expectations. Job postings that lack solid information are likely employment scams.

5. Never Pay for a Job

Common job scams ask applicants to pay for training materials, background checks, or other fees to secure a job. Legitimate employers will never ask you to pay money in exchange for an interview or job offer.

6. Unusually High Pay for Entry-Level Jobs

When the job offers a salary well above market value, that should signal you to do more research. While there are high-paying entry-level jobs, the pay will be within a standard range for the role. If the job posting offers an extremely high salary compared to similar roles, it’s likely fake. Take the time to research and verify.

7. No Interview Process

Job offers without any interview process signal job scams. Legitimate companies will want to know potential employees through an interview or screening before making a job offer. Reputable companies want to protect their culture and reputations, and there are generally multiple candidates and a standardized hiring process. Not to mention, the interview is a chance for you to interview the company as well.

8. Excessive Spelling and Grammar Errors

A misplaced comma isn’t cause for concern unless you’re an editor applying for a job at a publishing company. On the other hand, several typos and poor grammar should cause you to proceed cautiously. Not to mention, any language that seems off or auto-generated is a red flag. Scammers don’t always put much effort into their job postings, but legitimate companies work hard to ensure they’re attracting high-quality talent.

9. Never Agree to a Wire Transfer

Thieves are always looking for quick ways to launder money and move it quickly from one account to another. Wire transfers are commonly used to move money quickly, and scammers will often request this as the payment method for fake job opportunities. If you’re asked to wire transfer funds, it’s a significant red flag.

10. Don’t Pay for Training

Occasionally, you might be required to pay for licensing in specific fields, such as a food handler’s permit or local real estate licensing fees. In those cases, the licensing fees and process should be verifiable by outside agencies, and you will generally have the opportunity to obtain the license from a third party. A legitimate job offer should not require you to pay for any upfront training or materials that are company-specific.

11. Only Communicating via Social Media or Chat

When you follow companies on social media or create a fantastic LinkedIn profile, your initial contact might be via one of those channels. However, after your initial conversation, legitimate companies will conduct their interview and hiring process through more traditional channels.

12. Unofficial Email Addresses

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of verifying a sender’s email address anytime you’re communicating online. That’s even more true when trying to avoid job offer scams. If you receive an email from a potential employer that doesn’t use their official company email address, don’t click on any links and mark them as spam.

13. Guard Your Financial Information

Employment scams often involve scammers looking for your financial information, such as bank account numbers or credit card details. Direct deposit information is only a part of the hiring process after a job offer has been accepted and you’re in the onboarding portion of your new job.

14. Too Good to Be True

As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of job offers that promise high salaries with little effort or experience required. Sure, there are dream jobs out there that offer flexible and alternative schedules. But if the job posting seems like you’ll be relaxing more than working, it’s a sign of an employment scam.

15. Your Salary Is Based on Who You Recruit

Another red flag for job scams is when a job offer signals that your compensation is based on how many other people you recruit. Sure, there are legitimate bonuses, and recruiters are tasked with staffing the company, but that is different than a job requiring you to bring in others who will report to you. Legitimate employers will base your salary on your skills and performance, and this type of compensation model is a pyramid or multilevel marketing (MLM) scheme.

Have a Safer Job Search

Safeguarding yourself against work-from-home job scams requires skepticism and a keen eye for red flags. Remember to thoroughly research prospective employers and scrutinize job offers for legitimacy.

That said, don’t let the fear of scams hold you back—take control of your job search with FlexJobs, Remote.co’s sister site. With an entire team dedicated to screening job postings, you’ll find verified listings and a trusted platform committed to providing safe and secure remote job searches. Start a safer remote job search today!

Search Remote Jobs

By Kimberli Lowe-MacAuley | Categories: Work Remotely

Related Posts

Comments are closed.