Work-from-home. Telecommuting. Remote employment. Flex jobs. Gigs. These are just a few of the names for not being required to go to an office or place of business to do your job.
With the increase in affordable technology, in communications and business hardware as well as the explosion of cloud-based software, a workplace transformation has been sweeping not only our country, but the world. More and more, the traditional workplace is becoming a thing of the past.
Many employers are embracing this phenomenon because it’s good business. Employees enjoy more time with their families. Flexible hours. Remote work can increase worker productivity and efficiency. According to PGi, a global provider of audio, web and video conferencing, 82% of telecommuters said they experienced reduced stress, while 80% reported improved morale. Plus, companies of all sizes reaped significant decreases in operating costs — less office space, fewer desks, decreased utilities expense, etc.
With the exponential growth of work-from-home opportunities, scammers have also recognized the possibilities for exploiting the job seekers. In fact, in a 2018 Forbes article, Brie Reynolds, senior career advisor at FlexJobs.com, a company that matches people with legitimate work-from-home opportunities, said “For every 1 legitimate work at-home opportunity… there are a whopping 70 work-from-home scams!” A survey by FlexJobs showed 17% of jobs seekers were scammed at least once when looking for a job online.
A scammer’s job is to steal your money and they go about it in a couple ways: They steal your credit card number, banking info or logins of your financial accounts. They then rob you directly. Or they steal your identity, establish bogus accounts and rob someone else using your name and ruining your credit.
You want to work from home, but how do you protect yourself?
• Don’t send money! Even though your job interviewer uses a well-known business’ name, no legitimate company will charge you to hire you or get you started. Don’t send money for office supplies and starter kits.
• Anything done all through email should be immediately suspicious. A job offer without an interview is a major red flag.
• Investigate. Ask for other employee or contractor references if you’re not sure of the company’s legitimacy and check them if supplied. If a company refuses to supply references with email addresses, names and phone numbers, scratch them off your list.
• I’ve said it many times before, “If it seems too good to be true it probably is!” We’ve recently had calls to our office from candidates for employment with well-known companies. But the tip off the opportunity was a scam was the candidates hadn’t applied for the job or were asked to furnish bank account information so the employer could pay them. Too good to be true!
• Don’t trust the job listing just because they use a recognized name and logo. Go to the actual company’s main website and click on the link to its employment or career page. That way you know you’re applying for a real job. Check the URL. Is it Amazon.com? If it’s something like Amazon.jobs.com avoid it!
• Look for remote jobs on legitimate sites such as ZipRecruiter.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, or FlexJobs.com.
Remote, work-at-home jobs are a growing trend, with multiple benefits for both employer and employee. Competition for remote jobs is pretty high. Use your gut and the tips above to identify if the opportunity is real or a rip off, so you can focus your time and energy pursuing the legitimate remote jobs you seek.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.