The digital age has brought with it a host of internet business opportunities. Unfortunately, it's also brought a host of scams. Before getting too excited about a promising opportunity, you should be aware of what to look for (and what to watch out for) in an online job. The classified ads are full of job offers to process claims from home, data entry jobs and multi-level marketing schemes. Very few of these are actually legitimate opportunities.
Pay Us Before We'll Pay You
Any prospective employer that asks you to pay them in order to apply for the job is a scam. If one of the pre-conditions of hiring you is for you to give them money, you can be assured that you'll never see that money again (and you'll never be able to contact the "employer" again). Multi-level marketers (MLM) will offer to sell you something that will help you get rich. All you have to do is sell the same thing, and they get a percentage of your sales. The original MLM gets rich, but you most likely won't. Paying them before they pay you is never a good option for an employee, and you should pass on these "opportunities."
Research Their Reputation
If a company has been around for awhile, people will have heard about it and written about it. Scam artists put up sophisticated web pages these days, so don't be fooled by a job offer just because it's coming from someone who knows HTML programming. Hit the search engines to find out if a company has been in business for a few years or more, and whether people have had good experiences with them. Check with the Better Business Bureau and other consumer protection agencies. Read blog posts about the company. Bloggers vent about the places where they spend their money, and this can be another source of research. If no one's ever heard of the company, or if no one has anything good to say about it, that's a big warning sign.
Set Clear Payment Terms
Before accepting any online job, find out how the employer plans to pay you. If they offer direct deposit to your bank account, you should decline. You can set up a PayPal account or have them send you a paper check. If you haven't met the employer face-to-face, you should never give them your bank account number or a credit card number. Another thing you'll want to consider is getting an Employer ID Number, also known as a Federal Tax ID Number. It's like a social security number for a business. You can use that number instead of your SSN when you apply for a job, as an extra layer of protection for your identity. Even before you give that number out, you should still do everything you can to make sure you're dealing with a legitimate employer.
It's unfortunate for both legitimate employers and prospective employees that there are so many scams in the online world. However, there are a lot of internet business opportunities out there which are legitimate. The key is to research a company before you give it any sensitive information.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.