These challenging times have been difficult for all. To be sure, we are all disrupted in some way, be it financially, work life, family life, and everything else. For many, it’s been a nice benefit to work in our pajamas or workout wear, if your company allows.
While you have been adjusting to alternate life schedules, remember that opportunistic scammers are out there and never take a rest trying to steal your money. They are opportunists to the core, and given any current social strife, it’s just another chance to scam someone. So please be aware that these things can happen to the best of us…and do whatever you can to thwart that.
Federal officials have raised alarms about scams spiking during the coronavirus shutdown as millions who have lost jobs are searching for new opportunities. You may be tempted to accept some work from home job opportunities. Here are some things to think about: From 2015 through 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 58,000 consumer complaints about sham opportunities to work from home or launch a business. What’s more, the median loss was $1,200 according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This is not to say that there are not legitimate work from home opportunities. You just need to be vigilant in the screening process and not jump for the promise of big money.
Tower is here to help! We pass along information to our members and their families to avoid being victims of fraud. What’s more, we provide many alert services to help keep you on top of your accounts. Please take advantage of them.
Following are some common work from home scams making the rounds these days:
- Request for Advance Fees – If anyone promises that you can earn big money and ask you to “buy” a starter kit or fake certification, run the other way says the FTC. If you give them access to your credit or debit card, they may use it to make other purchases. Reminder: All Tower Mastercard debit and credit cards come with zero liability protection, which is great. However, these problems are not instantly dissolved and you will be subject to some paperwork on behalf of the card issuer….and frankly, us. We are a safe and sound institution because of the diligence we place on record-keeping. That’s why we make it a focus to educate our members up front to avoid paperwork clusters and frustration later on. Trust us…it’s worth it! We are a partnership against fraud.
- Mystery Shopper – Retail firms actually do hire mystery shoppers to report on employee performance. But you need to know when this is a legitimate offer or a fake one. If it’s a scam, they may send you a hefty check to deposit, then withdraw funds to shop and check out the services of local stores. You would keep a small amount of the money, but then wire the rest back to the company. Many times the check bounces and you are losing money you sent in advance. Here’s the dead giveaway: legitimate jobs never overpay employees and ask them to wire a refund elsewhere. It’s just not done.
- Data Entry – Sounds like easy money, especially if you’re set up at home from a decent computer. These scams require employees to enter information into company databases, but don’t expect high pay. Frequently there’s an “application fee” ranging from $25 – $250 according to the BBB, or a fee to buy special software. Be wary of “too good to be true” offers of BIG money.
- Envelope Stuffing Scams & More – A common money-grabbing scam includes envelope stuffing jobs, medical billing scams, direct sales or multilevel marketing, pyramid schemes, business start-up kits, product reselling, or call center jobs. Sounds pretty good if you can get a gig working from home, right? If the company asks for up-front money or to pay for training, say “No thanks” and move along. It is likely a scam.
Spot the red flags
Never take jobs from home if you haven’t interviewed by phone or video. Ask the names of your interviewers so that they can be verified — through LinkedIn and other sites.
The job description needs to sound legit. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The job ad reads “No skills or experience required.” Is that really possible for a legit job?
The company promises that this will be a surefire hit and pay off quickly.
You’re required to pay upfront for training, certifications, directories or materials.
And it’s all up to you
You control these things:
- Your Common Sense. This is key. Trust your gut when confronted with offers such as these. Think through the numbers and you may see that it won’t be a win for you—but rather a win for the company running the scam.
- Your Emotions. To be sure, these are emotional and sometimes frantic times. You don’t need to make illogical or rush decisions—just think about it. Why not ask a trusted friend or relative for their take on the situation? Sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to decide “Today”—you can ask why not “Tomorrow”? The answer may reveal their true intent.
- Do your Homework. A good starting point could be to check the company out on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, the BBB and any other social media site or agency available. What does the website reveal—is there a permanent address associated with it? If not…keep moving on.
Some resources for checking on employers:
- Check out companies with your state consumer protection agency and with the BBB in the community the company is listed.
- Learn about the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule, which requires companies to disclose information about business opportunities they are selling, to provide references and back-up claims on how much you can earn.
- Check that job sites specializing in remote work screen the job openings and companies listed on their site.
Resources: Yahoo.com, thebalance.com, AARP, Monster, Forbes, Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau