How to Tell Legitimate Telecommute Jobs from Scams

Is a telecommute job right for you?

If you're interested in seeking work from home employment, it's important to learn how to recognize legitimate telecommute jobs. Even though more and companies are hiring workers and independent contractors for telecommuting positions, there are still plenty of shady operations advertising work at home opportunities that are little more than scams. When you're looking for employment, it is important be open to new opportunities, but also to proceed with caution.

Separating Legitimate Telecommute Jobs from Scams

Signs of a Work From Home Scam

The best way to prevent yourself from falling for a telecommuting scam is to educate yourself about the warning signs that you are dealing with a con rather than a legitimate employment opportunity.

  • Charges - No legitimate employer or employment agency charges fees to applicants. If asked to pay money for a processing fee or any other part of the process for applying for a telecommuting position, the odds are very good that you are dealing with some type of scam.
  • Guarantees - There are no guarantees when looking for work. Any organization that promises employment is offering something that isn't possible. The companies are also likely to be the ones that ask for money or personal information that could lead to identity theft issues. They often charge for "training" with the promise of a job that isn't likely to ever happen.
  • Emphasis on opportunity - Companies that actively recruit individuals to work in legitimate telecommute jobs approach hiring in the same manner as employers who hire staff members to work in traditional positions. They look for people with specific skills, positive references, and motivation to succeed performing a specific type of work. Their primary interest is in finding qualified workers to fill available positions, so their recruiting messages focus on the work that needs to be performed rather than the opportunity to make money from home.
  • Company not verifiable - If you find a telecommuting job opportunity online with a company that you are not familiar with, verify that it is a legitimate company. If the organization doesn't have a verifiable physical address, telephone number, or employer identification number, you just might find that you won't be able to locate the company when it's time to get paid for your efforts. Keep in mind that the fact that a company has a website does not mean that it is legitimate.
  • Promise of very high pay for very little work - Any time you see an employment offer that basically offers money for nothing, you can be assured that you are dealing with a scam.
  • Too good to be true - It's a simple fact that any offer or opportunity that seems too good to be true probably isn't legitimate.

Recognizing Legitimate Telecommuting Opportunities

Even though it's important to be cautious, there's no reason to run from every potential telecommuting job. There are several ways to tell if an opportunity to work from home is likely to be legitimate.

  • Recognized company - If the company is one that's been around for a while and has a good reputation, there's much less risk. Companies that have been around for a while aren't likely to disappear overnight, particularly those that are widely recognized and have a solid customer and employee base.
  • Known to have telecommuting employees - Companies that already have telecommuting employees are likely to add team members on a regular basis.
  • Formal application process - Any company that is truly recruiting for legitimate telecommute jobs is going to require applicants to submit a formal application and go through one or more interviews, at a minimum. They'll also likely call references and conduct background checks.
  • Easy to contact-Legitimate employers make it easy for telecommuting workers to contact company representatives, typically providing toll free telephone numbers, email access, and/or communication via instant messenger.

Use a Trusted Service that Screens Scams Out for You

Even if you know what to look for in identifying work from home scams, it can take time to screen through all the information out there to find the truly legitimate opportunities for flexible work. Instead of spending your time trying to identify good opportunities out of a sea that includes potential scams, consider using a service that takes care of that part for you. For example, FlexJobs provides access to a pre-screened database of legitimate job postings for flexible work opportunities for a very affordable price ($14.95 per month or just $49.95 for an entire year).

In an interview on, FlexJobs founder and CEO Sarah Sutton Fell states, "Estimates show 60-70 scam jobs for every 1 legitimate telecommuting job." She actually came up with the idea for FlexJobs after she was "awestruck" by the number of scams out there when she started searching for flexible work in 2006. She launched the site the following year as a "clean, easy-to-use, scam-free, ad-free subscription service" to help people "find the best flexible jobs out there."

Examples of Companies That Hire Telecommuters

More and more employers are recognizing the benefits of utilizing telecommuting workers for various types of jobs. Because of that, additional opportunities for people with the right skills who want to work from home are becoming available on a regular basis. Some companies that employ telecommuters include:

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How to Tell Legitimate Telecommute Jobs from Scams