While remote work has always been a thing, advancements in technology coupled with societal changes that have resulted from the 2020 coronavirus pandemic have made it more common than ever. While there are clear benefits to working remotely and great opportunities, there are also plenty of scams.
If a big company like Meta, Google or Microsoft advertises the position, they probably have their internal job board and recruitment site. While they search for specific and most available positions, reach out to the people who apply. So if you applied for a remote job on the official Google site, received an interview offer via a legitimate email address, and went through the company’s process – congratulations, the job is legitimate. At the other end of the spectrum are the job postings that bots post on social media sites. You could earn up to $500 an hour working from home! Except you couldn’t, these are obviously sneaky. But what about the job opportunities in between? Can a legitimate-looking offer be a scam, and what do you have to lose if it all goes wrong?
In most states and countries, you are free to leave if a job doesn’t suit you. So, other than time, what do you have to lose if a remote job isn’t legitimate? Well, you could lose a lot. For starters, onboarding involves a lot of paperwork, and that paperwork will contain your name, date of birth, phone number, social security number, and bank details. You should not leave this private information to you. shouldn’t let it fall into the wrong hands.
Then there is the possibility of a scammer asking for some sort of fee in order to set up the job. It could be a “recruiter” asking for a search fee, a company asking for an “administrative fee” to cover your onboarding, or any other excuse that will tempt you to write a check. It’s also a massive sign that the job isn’t legit, and chances are that any money you send is gone for good. You might also be tricked into installing malicious software, which could harm your computer or collect personal information.
Some offers come from “legit” companies but aren’t worth your time. Although there is a federal minimum wage, many remote opportunities are employment contracts that can circumvent this. You are not employed by the hour; you are offered a fee for completing a task. You get a fixed amount of money when the task is completed. However, if you are offered $200 for something that will take you 500 hours, you will be much better off with a minimum wage job.
When you’re unemployed and savings dwindle, you’ll likely apply for more jobs than you can keep up with. So when an opportunity in your field with great benefits and a generous salary lands in your inbox, it can be easy to convince you that you’ve applied. While it may be legit, you still need to be vigilant unless you remember applying for the job. Companies like Indeed have the ability to make your resume visible to potential employers, which can also make things like your contact information visible to bad actors. So, you might receive a message with a job offer attached and convince you that this is something you applied for.
In my 13 years of freelancing, I have never received a legitimate job offer via WhatsApp or any other messaging service. The proposals themselves, while still somewhat plausible, will be very tempting. I played around with a few without wasting too much time and had hourly rates about double the average, plus perks like a free MacBook hanging in front of me. Our editor fished out a recruited scam and ended up with demands as outlandish as sending a $1,449 iPhone to scammers.
While golden opportunities may exist, everything from the method of contact to the level of grammar the hiring agent possesses should raise your suspicions. Other red flags include an immediate job offer,
So what is the scam? Well, there are a few things that could happen. No matter how good a company is, never pay them for the opportunity to start working for them. Big tech companies don’t expect you to pay a subscription or middleman fee to do admin work or code for them. Then there is the possibility of installing malware on your PC, which could be used to hijack a bank or credit card account. There were even a few cheeky guys use other people’s hardware to mine bitcoin before the cryptocurrency crash. So always stay alert and keep track of where you applied.
A job listed on Indeed, Monster, or LinkedIn does not make it a legitimate opportunity. Sites are actively trying to remove suspicious listings, but since you can look pretty with a job description, it’s easy for scammers to slip through the net. Indeed recognizes it and has his own list of tips you can track to spot a scam. Those warning signs he lists include things like recruiters asking for confidential information early in the recruitment process, job requirements being vague, and details about the company itself being scarce.
While these tips don’t apply specifically to remote work, there is a lot of overlap. If anything, the remote position makes the scam a bit easier to execute because the scammer doesn’t need to be in a similar location to the person they’re trying to scam, and he doesn’t There’s no risk of you showing up to check out the physical office they may claim to have. Ultimately, while a website may have policies in place to prevent scams, and appearing on a website may give a job posting an air of legitimacy, you shouldn’t assume that everything is above simply because the job offer was advertised in a recognizable place.
Always seek in a company; a little research can save you frustration and prevent a lot of your hard work from going to waste. Times can be desperate, and you might want an offer to be legit, but you can’t want a genuine offer to exist, and you’re only hurting yourself in the long run.
If an individual or company is a bit sleazy, chances are you won’t be the first one they try to burn. For all its flaws, the internet is a great place to air grievances. If something is a real scam, someone will have posted it somewhere. The same goes for exploitative work situations; if a company wants a lot but pays very little — someone will have said something. Although online reviews may have a negative bias, people are more likely to complain when they’re upset than to praise somewhere when they’re happy; Glassdoor and others always provide genuine service and can help flag unsuitable job opportunities. Beyond that, find a physical office address and verify it on Google Street View. If possible, talk to other employees or contractors on a platform like Linkedin and ask for their opinions.
Ultimately, even if you’ve started, you have to be ready to go if something goes wrong. Time spent with a bad company or a fraudulent company is wasted time.
One of the most common places to freelance is on a dedicated gig website like UpWork Where Freelancer.com. These websites make their money in several ways. Potential employers pay to advertise their gigs, freelancers forego a share of their profits, and additional services are sold. The share that freelancers give up is significant and can represent up to 20% of their income. There are also fraudulent employers who use these sites. As a general rule, never download strange software at the request of an employer – sites have their own software that can be used to track hours and work performed. Likewise, you must ensure that the money you are about to be paid is held in escrow and released as pre-established milestones are met. This reduces the chances of you getting scammed and allows for some arbitrage if an employer tries to pull something off.
Even if you independently land a legitimate freelance gig from a reputable organization, things can still be tough. This is especially the case if they insist on paying you by check. Poor payroll service, coupled with ground-breaking courier speeds, can make you wait over a month for your payment to reach your bank account. You may also need to continue a check if it is severely delayed, and some high profile publications have been accused of scamming their freelancers in the past. I would also like to point out that Geek Reviews is not one of those places, and I had no problem getting paid on time each month.
In the wake of the pandemic, more legitimate remote opportunities are available than ever. Just keep your cool and you can land the remote job of your dreams.