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Scam Warning Signs

How to Spot a Scam


What's a scam and what's not? It can be really difficult to tell the difference between scams and legitimate job openings, especially when it comes to work at home jobs. Here are scam warning signs to watch for and how to spot a scam.

Data Entry Job Scams

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When you're searching for online jobs, you'll find many listings for data entry jobs. There are some legitimate ones, but, because there are so many work at home scams focused on data entry jobs it can be difficult to tell the difference. Warning signs include charging you a fee to access data entry postings, charging you for training materials, or charging you for a getting started kit.

Fake Job Scams

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After you respond to a job posting via email, you are asked to fill out a form on another page in order to prove that you are not spamming them. That site is typically a pitch for a work at home scheme, a site selling something, or a site trying to collect your personal information to sell or to use. There isn't a job. A warning sign is having to click on another site and submit information, rather than being able to apply for the job.

Build a Kit Scams

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With this scam, you're told you will be paid for assembling a kit. You're charged (usually about $50) for the materials. The company sends you the material and a very brief, detailed explanation of how to assemble the kit. You're told you will be paid $200 for the finished product. Then after you send the finished product they either tell you it's not up to standard or they tell you they have already paid you once - either way, you don't get paid.

Just a Dollar Scams

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There's a scam where you're asked to pay a $1 to download information on working online for Google or other companies. One variation is called a Google Success Kit. The company asks for credit card information and charges you $1, but nothing downloads. You don't get anything for your dollar and even though a dollar doesn't sound like much, a company can make a lot of money this way, plus they have your credit card information. Or, in another variation, you think you are going to pay $1.95, but get charged much more, either in a lump sum, or monthly for additional terms and services.

Money Scams

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Scammers do their best to part you from your hard earned money. There are scams where you are told you've been hired and will be paid a weekly salary. Then, the company sends another email saying that there was a mistake and they had accidentally paid you more than the amount of your paycheck. You're told to wire the rest of the money to someone else when you receive the check. You wire the money, but the check bounces and you're out the full amount of check. Or, you could be asked to transfer funds as part of your job. Any job that asks you do anything with money, other than paying you is most likely a scam.

Mystery Shopper Scams

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There are several varieties of mystery shopper (secret shopper) scams. Red flags including charging shoppers for certification, charging a fee to access mystery shopping jobs, charging a fee to guarantee a job as a mystery shopper, and selling directories of companies that provide mystery shoppers. There are also scams where you're told you're hired as a mystery shopper to check on customer service at bank. You're asked to cash a check and/or wire funds to a third party. The check bounces and you're out the money.

U.S. Postal Service Scams

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There are many U.S. Postal job ads both online and in daily and weekly newspapers. When you call the phone number, you are asked to send a fee for a post office exam kit or an application, which you can get free on a federal government web site, but it's sold as requirement for getting the job or being considered as a candidate. Any web site or company that charges you to apply for government jobs is scamming you.

Unemployment Scams

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There are several scams that take advantage of unemployed workers. Companies charge fees to help customers complete or file Unemployment Insurance claims. They suggest they can expedite your claim. You need to personally file your unemployment claim and third parties will not get you additional benefits or payments any quicker. In addition, beware of emails or text messages asking you for personal information, like your social security mumber, unemployment claim number, or PIN number. This is a clear sign of a scam.


You may see advertisements for work at home jobs on this page, because that's the topic of the article. Just because you see an ad here, that doesn't make it a legitimate company. Carefully investigate companies that you are interested in.
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