Top Work from Home Job Scams

Working from home seems like an ideal situation for most employees. The ability to avoid your morning commute, distractions from coworkers, and even working in your PJs sounds great.

In 2017, it was estimated that 3.7 million Americans work from home at least part-time and the number continues to grow.

Are you looking to make the switch to a work from home position? It’s not impossible, but it is important to be wary of scams. Each year the number of work from home scams increase as more employees are looking for these jobs.

Check out our list of the top work from home job scams and how they can be avoided.

Medical Billing

Medical billing is a legitimate job. Medical billing and coding is where healthcare providers, insurance companies and patients intersect. They provide the diagnosis and treatment codes used to create one’s medical bill. Have you ever seen those ads for medical billing and coding positions?

They often promise high pay and money today, with no experience. That is the giveaway.

Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry and requires industry-specific training to properly perform any job. It is highly unlikely that you will find a position that requires no experience as a work from home job. Ways to avoid this scam: Legitimate work from home jobs will not require you to purchase anything.

Most medical billing and coding ads ask you to purchase software to start your own business. These services are typically provided by well-established agencies, so it is unlike that you would be able to start a business like this at home. Don’t be fooled and move on to the next opportunity.


We all enjoy online shopping.  It’s convenient, can often save you money, and allows you to purchase items that you may not be able to find in local stores.  Technology has now made it possible for almost anyone to launch their own online store.  While the idea of being an online business owner may sound appealing, this is one of the top work from home job scams.

There are many advertisements for starting e-commerce businesses.  However if these ads promise a way to make money without even creating a website, run!  These sorts of advertisements promise a way to earn money without the work of setting up the store.

You would simply promote the website and draw customers to the store, and collect a fee for your efforts.

Here’s the fine print. You would simply pay a one-time fee up front for the creation/build of the website. This fee could be from hundreds to thousands of dollars.  As mentioned before, legitimate work from home jobs will not require you to spend any money. Avoid this scam before handing over your hard earned money that you won’t get back.

Data Entry

I see these advertisements all the time. Usually accompanied with a high hourly rate, these ads promise immediate hire with little or no experience.  Data entry involves entering data into a computer software program.  That is is how the trap is set.  The scammer will offer to connect you to companies to perform data entry activities.  However, they request that you purchase special software needed to complete the job.

No legitimate company is going to require you to spend money to perform your job duties.  If you pay money to get started on a job, just know that it is as good as gone.  These companies operate in a way that is difficult to track, using fraudulent business information.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery or secret shopping is an actual job as well.  Companies pay consumers to check out their locations and assess areas like customer service, store cleanliness and inventory.  While it is a legitimate position, it is also one of the most popular work from home job scams.

How does it work?  These scams has been structured in multiple ways.  First example:  The online scammer may request that you pay a fee to gain access to the companies in need of mystery shoppers.  Sometimes referred to as a “registration” fee, this money is collected but no such services are delivered.

Second example: The scammers advise that they will send you a check to deposit at your bank.  You are instructed to spend a certain amount, then wire the rest to them.  The truth is that the check is phony and you can end up in big trouble with your bank (and possible legal trouble as well.)

Third example:  You are lured to pay for a “certification” to become a mystery shopper.  In reality, no such certification is necessary and the certification is actually worthless.

Related: Side Hustles Explored: Becoming a Mystery Shopper

Pyramid Schemes

Multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes are not quite the same thing.  These are difficult to spot due to the fact there are positioned legitimate opportunities.  The easiest way to distinguish between the two is the payment structure.  If you are recruited to sell goods in exchange for a commission, this may be legitimate.

However, if your payment structure is based on your ability to recruit other employees, move on. Pyramid schemes received their name from the tiered structure. This means that in order to really earn money, you will need to advance to the top of the pyramid.

Pyramid schemes are illegal, but companies have become crafty in how the maneuver around the law.  Scams like envelope stuffing (an oldie but a goodie), certain sales positions, and any job requiring referrals should be avoided.

Other Common Work From Home Job Scams to Avoid

  • Envelope Stuffing
  • Survey Schemes (Companies should not charge you to take surveys and you should be paid in some form of cash for your work)
  • Check Cashing
  • Assembly Kits
  • Rebate Processing
  • Unsolicited Job Offers

Now that you’re aware of the top work from home job scams, here’s how to avoid them:

Research the company – There are a number of legitimate businesses that provide work from home jobs.  If they don’t have a website, or for instance use a “gmail” email account, it is unlikely that this is the job for you.  You can also check out the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker to see if the company has been listed there as well.

Real jobs will not ask for money up front – I cannot stress this enough.  No legitimate job requires money down. Now, a business you’re launching may require an investment, but this should be on your own afford. If you do find yourself in this unfortunate position, you can take the following steps:

  1. File a police report.
  2. Contact your bank and notify them of your predicament
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Pay attention to the job description – If it sounds too good to be true, then chances are it is too good to be true. Promises of high pay, with no experience or training are classic giveaways.

Be aware and do your research.  The right work from home position is out there, it just may not be as easy as 1-2-3.

To assist your search, check out these legitimate work from home opportunities and ideas that all been heavily researched and screened. 

Have you heard of any work from home scams?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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