Online ‘Work at Home’ and ‘Home Based’ Business Scams Revealed

scamWork from home job postings are everywhere. There are listings for data entry jobs, research positions, multi-level marketing opportunities, and a variety of other ways to make a lot of money fast. In fact, there are so many of them that work at home scams that the U.S. Government created a dedicated webpage listing many of the scams…..but the truth is that there are too many out there to catalog.

Interestingly, there are some legitimate telecommute, telework and work-at-home companies.  The challenge is to how to tell whether a work from home job posting is a scam or a legitimate work from home job.  The work at home scams fall into these categories:

First the cold truth:  there are a number of phony job listings on legit job-hunting websites.  The indicators of scam jobs include:

Pitches to be your own boss: Involves a pitch for owning your own business, with promises of huge money. But the only ones making money are the people pushing startup kits and related costs.

Envelope Stuffing:  Let us ask you this question:   If you were the employer, why would you pay someone $1 or more to stuff an envelope when you could job out the task to a mailing house for pennies apiece?

Fee Charged:   Most all scammers charge a big fee for a “background check” or for providing additional information about the jobs.

At-Home Assembly Work: This is also highly suspicious. If these companies were legit, why wouldn’t they be using offshore labor at a fraction of the cost?

Medical Billing or Claims Processing: Very few medical professionals will let just anyone handle private medical info especially with new healthcare privacy rules in effect. Most doctors will not outsource billing services to individuals, but rather to large, established companies whose workers are trained and employed on site.

Refund-Recovery Business:  The scammers offer to sell you software to track late and lost UPS and FedEx packages and assist the shippers’ customers in obtaining refunds. The shippers say these refund-recovery schemes are bogus.

In general, beware of work-at-home employers who ask for your money up front. Legitimate employers pay you, not the other way around.    Some reputable employers will ask for modest fees to cover costs, but nothing excessive.  But also understand that the scammers are targeting very specific people.   If you fall into one of these groups, you need to be extra-cautious:

The Sick, Disabled, or Elderly: If you are elderly, ill, or have a disability, you may have problems landing a traditional job.
The Stay-At-Home Mother: Whether you have a spouse or you’re single, you may be looking to supplement or create an income while raising children.
The Low-Income or No-Income Family: You or your spouse may have just lost your job, and you feel desperate and anxious to find work as the bills pile up.
The Person Without Higher Education: You’re not stupid or dumb — you just didn’t go on to college or university.



1.  Check Out the Job Listings
If it isn’t listed in the job posting, find out if there’s a salary or if you’re paid on commission. For work at home jobs, ask how often are you paid and how you are paid. Ask what equipment (hardware / software) you need to provide.

2.  Don’t Expect to “Get Rich” Quickly
Avoid listings that guarantee you wealth, financial success, or that will help you get rich fast. Stay clear of listings that offer you high income for part-time hours. They will do none of the above.

3.  Don’t Send Money
Do not send money! Legitimate employers don’t charge to hire you or to get you started. Don’t send money for work at home directories or start-up kits.

4.  Check References
Ask for references if you’re not sure about the company’s legitimacy. Request a list of other employees or contractors to find out how this has worked for them. Then contact the references to ask how this is working out. If the company isn’t willing to provide references (names, email addresses and phone numbers) do not consider the opportunity.

5.  Do Some Research
One of the better resources that we’ve come across is a website called Workathomenoscams.   It’s a mouthful, but its host, Eddy Salomon, offers some sound advice about Work at Home opportunities and also has identified some of the questionable propositions or outright scams.   His blog is a must-read if you are looking to invest in a Work At Home job.



There are some areas where you can find legitimate work-from-home or home-based jobs.   They normally fall into these types of jobs:

Mystery Shopper
Tech support specialist
Virtual assistant
Medical transcriptionist
Web developer/designer
Call center representative
Travel agent

DotComDollar has created a very comprehensive list of types of work-from-home jobs that is worth your time.  And consumer advocate Clark Howard has listed a number of companies who offer home-based jobs.  His list is shown below:

• – Virtual call center provider using home-based customer service agents. They charge $45 for a required background check.

• – Make money online with paid surveys.

• – Offers home agent jobs providing customer care, human resources and billing services

• – Online mock juries and focus groups allow large groups of people to help attorneys determine case value, develop case themes, find the facts to emphasize, and learn “public” attitudes.

• – Find clients and freelance jobs offered by small businesses to do freelance web design, programming, SEO,  graphic design and more.

• – Get paid to write product reviews, both favorable and negative. Some users report earning $100 or more annually from this site.

• – People share things they’re willing to do for $5. The low price is often a loss leader allowing a contractor to develop a client base for their particular area of expertise.

• Google Opinion Rewards – Answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credits.

• – Call center company that provides clinical and non-clinical telephone services to health plans, healthcare providers, and care managers nationwide. Anyone who is not a qualified nurse needs to work at one of their their bricks-and-mortar call centers, not from home.

• – Virtual call center using remote and home-based agents. All applicants are required to undergo a mandatory background check that costs $50. For an optional fee of $175, a more extensive background check allows you to work with specific Fortune 200 companies that have partnered with You also have to install a second, dedicated, telephone landline for this work — only to be used for LiveOps work.

• – Find work as freelancer doing coding and web work, business consulting, writing, planning, newsletters and more.

• – Provides online case review and juror feedback services to attorneys. (Editor’s note:’s website has an Expired Security Certificate, so no one should access their website at this time.)

• – Market your services in your local area to provide services for others. This website only serves select metro areas.

• Sutherland@Home – Work from home customer service opportunities. Includes paid training, paid background checks, and no hidden fees.

• – Market your services in your local area to run errands for others. For example, if you’re good at building Ikea furniture, you might position yourself as a “rabbit” who gets the furniture at the store and then assembles it for others. This website only serves select metro areas.

• – An online magazine for work-at-home moms

• – Offers remote contract opportunities for retired insurance industry workers

• – Duties include obtaining, entering and verifying customer information, answering questions, resolving issues, explaining sales features or offering additional products or services. (Some users have reported being asked for their Social Security number when filling out the Work Opportunity Tax Credit [WOTC] info. However, filling out the WOTC is strictly voluntary — not required.)

• – Hires independent contractor home-agents to provide sales and customer service.  Home-agents earn anywhere from $8-$20 per hour, depending on the program.

• – An active discussion forum where you’ll discover lots of job leads

• – Market yourself as a consultant based on your area of expertise. (Unlike other sites, Zintro requires the hiring business to put the money it intends to pay a freelancer into escrow. Once the work is completed, Zintro releases the money into the freelancer’s account, generally through PayPal. )

• – Market research services for professional marketing researchers, including online focus groups, hosted focus groups and online surveys.

4 thoughts on “Online ‘Work at Home’ and ‘Home Based’ Business Scams Revealed”

  1. Everybody I have talked to that has start using the Internet eventually asks the question: How can I make money online? And for most people, they never learn what they need to do in order to make a couple hundred to thousands of dollars online.Everybody wants to make money online, but very few people know where to start. For most people it comes down to having to learn advanced skills that they never have time to master, resulting in the feeling of helplessness about making money online.Luckily for me, I found an easy way around that about a year ago. Instead of trying to learn crazy web languages or graphic design, I started search for nontechnical ways to make money online. This led me to taking paid surveys online.

    What I found was that I could make decent money just by filling out online surveys for an hour or so, everyday. It was surprisingly easy since I could do them while chatting on Facebook or after my kids went to bed, so I figured I would give it a month and see how much I could earn. At the end of the month, I was so excited when my first check came in the mail for $638.28!After a few months, I built up a reputation so that survey companies would give me even higher paying surveys, giving me even more money. Overall it has been a very smart choice that fits into my lifestyle, and hasn’t required me to learn anything advanced computer skills. If you are trying to make some extra money, give online surveys a try.

    So how does it work?

    1. Find a website that has a large survey database.
    2. Sign up with a few sites, 3-5 to start then add more to receive more surveys
    3. Start taking surveys, simply fill out accurate information. They usually take 10-20 minutes per survey.
    4. Cash out and receive your payment either with PayPal or by mail.

    Best or all, you don’t need to spend any money, there is no risk or scams, and the sites are free to join. If you are looking to earn some extra income, surveys seem to be one of the best ways to go.

    • This “comment” is a dubious spam sales pitch for survey websites. We see a fair number of these in our inbox and chose to print this one as a cautionary note for consumers. SDCAN doesn’t recommend such sites and seriously questions the claim that they can generate a lot of income. Our findings about survey websites can be found at this link: “CAUTION: Survey Websites Fall Short”. This is compulsory reading for anyone seriously considering signing up for a survey website.


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