How To Spot Work From Home Scams in 2020

There are a lot of office triggers I can’t stand. Like the fluorescent lighting, the persistent distraction from pointless meetings and other coworkers, and the whole thing about getting dressed in the morning to go there.

That last part is a joke, but it’s true. I am pretty lazy. That is why I found myself ways to work from home more and even snagged a couple of 100% work from home jobs in the past (but working in I.T. is perfect for that).

Before this, my last job was at a company that contracted with the VA and was actually a 100% remote office. Everyone who worked for them worked from all different parts of the country. The President lived in Miami, the V.P. in North Carolina, HR in Colorado, an engineer who lived in Florida, and Me in Missouri.

Do you know where I found that job? Indeed. That is one of the legit online job boards you can usually depend on finding excellent opportunities.

But not every listing on a legit online job board is actually legit. Yes, a lot on the internet is very scammy — especially ads for work from home jobs and scams. Work from home scams is abundant online. They squeeze into every platform possible, and if you are not careful, you might fall for one.

Red Flags to Look Out For

Let’s talk about what characteristics to look out for with work from home scams. It doesn’t matter if you want to work remote part-time as a side hustle or find a full-time remote job; you need to look out for the sleaze-balls!

The Job Posting and Description Lacks Detail

When I was surfing on Indeed for remote jobs, I was surprised to see how many jobs seemed…so empty. The company name would be either familiar or seemed legit, so I would click it, thinking it would be a cool gig.

Instead, I found listings that were maybe a paragraph long and vague in detail. Of course, this was a little over three years ago when there were fewer remote jobs available on job boards like Indeed, and these sorts of scenarios are less frequent (but still do happen).

If you see vague job listings anywhere online (not just job boards) that lack detail, are generic or seem fishy in any sense, it's most likely a work from the home scam – it is best to steer clear.

They Require Payment Up Front

Alright, we have all heard of a site called FlexJobs, where they do require a monthly subscription to use their job board of remote and telecommuting jobs. They are the exception to the rule that you should never pay upfront for a job because they sell their platform as the product (not the actual job).

If a work from home job ever requires you to pay any fees upfront to get started working, that’s an immediate red flag.

Don’t pay to work. Work to get paid.

You Can’t Find Any Information About The Company.

On job boards like, indeed, where you surf their jobs using the “remote” location filter, you will see a rating under each company name on each listing. Pay attention to these.

Glassdoor does this, too, where employees can rate how well it is to work for a certain company and post reviews. I love this feature as it gives us some additional insight into what might be expected from a job listing.

If a company has no reviews or any information really about it, do a quick Google search. If they have no internet presence and you can’t find anything about it; otherwise, chances are they are not a legitimate employer.

Always do your research and fair vetting of the company you want to apply for a position at!

When Things Are Too Good to Be True, They Usually Are

If the position pays $100,000 a year for 20 hours a week (that can be done from home), no experience necessary, start tomorrow with no on-call and pick your own schedule, please don’t do it. That isn’t a good sign.

I have never heard of that job that you can work remote, part-time, make six figures, and have no experience. It just doesn’t happen because if it did, I am sure the United States' unemployment rate would be much lower.

If you see aspects of a job listing that seem too good to be true, turn to the trusted internet once again and start doing your research. The Better Business Bureau is great for researching these and avoiding work from home scams.

Specific Jobs That Are Bogus

Along with looking out for specific red flags online and on job boards, there is also a couple of “work from home jobs” that really works from home scams and are entirely bogus.

Medical Billing

While medical billing is actually a legitimate job, it isn’t done remotely. Medical billers usually work directly for physicians, medical facilities, or
insurance providers and traditionally required to be on site.

Envelope Stuffing

Ah, I’ve seen this one far too many times. The idea with envelope stuffing is you send in some money to receive your envelopes and whatever you are told to send out. Then you “get $2” for each envelope you mail, but really you are just trying to rope others to send you $2. I don’t get it, but the claims of high earnings from these opportunities are completely false.

Mystery Shopping

While some mystery shopping jobs from companies like Bestmark are totally legitimate, there are many out there that aren’t.

The scammy ones are ones you haven’t heard of, offer false certifications, and ask for money to “wire.” This is when they ask you to deposit money so they can wire it back, which is really a fake check scam.

How to Find Legitimate Work From Home Jobs

Besides taking the tips mentioned above, the following job boards and websites are usually safe to look for work from home opportunities.

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Linkedin
  • FlexJobs
  • AngelList
  • Stack Overflow
  • Working Nomads
  • Virtual Vocations

In addition to these, you can also contract out your skills as a freelancer using sites like Fiverr and Upwork (which are also 100% free to use and get started on). Setting up streams of passive income can be generated from anywhere with something like a blog, course, ebook, podcast, etc.


The thing is, the internet is as shady as it is incredible. There are always going to be people out there trying to turn a trick. If you know what to look out for and have realistic expectations when searching online for work from home jobs, you will avoid most of these work from home scams.

However, if you find yourself in the middle of one, you can take these next steps:

  • Alert all of your financial institutions.
  • Report it to the BBB Scam Tracker.
  • File a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
  • Contact the Attorney General’s office in your state to see if any home worker laws protect you.

If that is where you are at currently, take action immediately. And if you are the start of your remote work job search, I wish you luck!

Website | + posts

Daniella Flores is a software engineer and blogger who writes about personal finance, cheap travel, side hustles and other ways to increase income and make money work for you and your lifestyle. As a small business owner, Flores provides a unique perspective on the changing lives of Americans as we begin to embrace new ways of earning money. Flores also covers the intersection of money and LGBTQ+ issues, financial feminism, work culture, and more as she explores the many different areas of life that money touches and the different effects it has on people. Daniella lives in Missouri with her wife and writes for both of her websites and