5 Work-at-Home Job Scams to Avoid

A study from 2013 shows that roughly 1 in 5 Americans work from home, and that number was expected to continually increase. Sure, working from home definitely has its appeal, but how do you know you’re getting into something legitimate? It can be rather unnerving to turn in your notice at your current employer to start the work at home journey. Before deciding to take such a drastic leap, avoid these common scams.

Mystery Shopping

While mystery shopping in and of itself isn’t always a scam, there are many mystery shopping scams floating around. These scams include receiving a cashier’s check in advance and you’re asked to cash it at your bank and go mystery shopping at a particular store. You report back to the mystery shopping company about the your shopping experience and wire back any money that you didn’t spend from the original cashier’s check. Days later the bank realizes that the cashier’s check is bogus and you’re responsible for the entire amount.

Check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association before jumping into a mystery shopping opportunity!

Data Entry

A job doing data entry sounds pretty straight forward and appealing, right? The reality is that legitimate data entry positions that pay as good as a full time job can be few and far between. In your quest for finding a work at home position, be leery of the ones that promise big earnings and are somewhat vague in what they’re looking for you to do. Many data entry scams are looking for you to actually take part in affiliate marketing or to sell tutorials or are pyramid schemes in and of themselves. The “data” you would be inputting is actually a small portion of the overall job, and a result of you first selling something.

Rebate Processing

Another popular work at home scam is rebate processing. You’re asked to process rebates for companies and in turn you earn a flat rate per form, sometimes up to $15. Upon signing up for this position, you are required to sell products to consumers which you will earn a commission off of and you offer them a rebate as part of that sale. What you don’t realize is that your commission also has to pay for the rebate.


You see survey companies all over the internet, and, while you can make some extra pocket change doing them, you cannot get rich by taking surveys for companies. On average you will earn anywhere from $0.50 - $4 on surveys that you are able to complete and are eligible for, which is usually a small portion of the available surveys. Some surveys can take over 30 minutes to complete, so when figuring out an hourly rate, you’re looking at $0.25 an hour!  In addition to earning very little for your time, expect thousands of emails in your inbox.

Envelope Stuffing

You might have seen the job ads for envelope stuffing everywhere from an internet ads to your mailbox. They promise that for a small fee paid upfront they will let you in on the secret to earning anywhere from $550 - $3000 a week stuffing envelopes, with all of the supplies paid for. Let’s face it, it is another one of those jobs that sounds too good to be true, because it is. The information that you end up paying for is either never delivered to you or you’re told to basically sell the same package to all of your friends and family in order to start earning.

Do your Homework

Everyone wants to be part of the American Dream. Legitimate work at home opportunities are out there, you just have to do a little bit of homework before jumping in. Keep in mind that any company that sends you a cashier’s check upfront and requires you to send a portion of it back, is probably too good to be true! Same thing goes for the companies that require an upfront investment or payment, be cautious. When in doubt, you can always do a quick internet search to see what comes up about the prospective employer. (And don't forget, we list legitimate work-at-home jobs every Monday!)

Dig in!

Check to see if a company has any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. If the company is rated unsatisfactory or refuses to answer questions related to their business, then this job isn’t right for you.

The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC is also a great place to search work at home companies. They are known as the nation’s consumer protection agency, which means their sole purpose is to prevent fraudulent business practices.

You can also contact your local Attorney General’s Office . They keep a close eye on fraudulent businesses and help provide consumer protection advice. Their website also allows you to download complaint forms, if you find yourself a victim of a work at home scam.

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