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How to Avoid Work-From-Home Job Scams

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The past decade has seen a prolific rise in the development of platforms designed for work-from-home modes of working. Those of us who have experience exploring and using these platforms will also know that there are imposters among us. The good thing is that it is now easier to recognize suspicious platforms and eject them from your list of the otherwise reliable ones. 

Let’s take the example of the ever-growing field of software development, work for which is always in demand. You have freelance platforms like Fiverr, UpWork, Gaper, and PeoplePerHour, among others. Though they differ slightly in how they work, they are all very reliable websites to find work that you are able to from home. There are also companies that hire remote teams to work for them. For example, sticking to the field of software development and engineering, companies like Gaper to further provide services to their clients. 

While the former (the freelance platforms) are easy to gauge the reliability of, you may want to be a bit warier when looking to apply to individual companies. The following are a few pointers that are essential to look at when you consider working remotely for a company:

1. Do not pay anything to work for someone

This is a major red flag. If they require you to put in money to be able to get work, run away. Though do note that this differs from the concept where freelance websites take a certain cut of the money you make off projects. That is perfectly understandable and valid as they also need to make money to continue to provide you with a platform to work.

2. Look at their socials

Of particular importance here is LinkedIn. If they appear to have organic activity on their page, employees who work there, others in the industry that interact with them, there’s a good chance they’re legit and get regular work. If their social media is inactive and you cannot find anyone that works for them, be extra cautious in putting in time for them.

3. Setup a meeting with a relevant person

This is, even more, easier ever since Zoom, Meet, and other audio/video calling platforms became common. Ask questions about the work the company gets, its clients, employees, and work practices. A satisfactory answer to these should help you assess whether the company has ongoing work or if something is amiss.

4. Interviews

In extension to the previous point, your interview should at least take place through a video or audio call. If they take you on board after just seeing your CV, or conducting an ‘interview’ via chat, know that something shady is happening. 

5. Amount of Money

If it looks too good to be true, it is a scam. If a company is offering to pay you an extraordinarily high amount of money to do a disproportionate amount of work, please don’t sign up to do it. Legitimate work opportunities will always have an element of competition with them. The job descriptions will always be detailed and specific with a connection to company-related work, as opposed to being generic.

6. Articles

It is not uncommon for companies to ask for a sample of your work, but there does come a point where they ask for a bit too much. A small 200-word abstract is enough to evaluate someone’s writing skills. There is no need to ask for three 2000 word articles. 

7. Trust your gut

Honestly, if you feel like something is off, or you get a sense of uneasiness in sharing your details with them – don’t. 

A silly anecdote

Once an acquaintance found an opportunity to do audio transcriptions for remarkably decent pay. The buyers sent them a Word document to fill out their details for purposes of maintaining a “database”. What do you know, it wasn’t a Word file, but a carrier of malware and viruses. Thankfully no sensitive information was lost and the nuisance was removed from their computer.

This could’ve been serious though. Sensitive information could have been lost. They could’ve spent a whole month of hard work doing transcriptions and got paid nothing at the end. The company would then move on to the next work-seeker and leech off their hard work. 

Scammers will always be around. Inexperienced folk will also, unfortunately, continue to fall prey to their deceiving antics. One must be judicious and critical in their assessment of a potential employer especially when they are working remotely. Do your research and ask around before dedicating your precious time to someone who only wished to exploit you. 

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