Tips to Avoid Remote Work Scams

It’s no secret that many employers have become open to incorporating remote workers into their workforce. I’ve worked remotely since 2014, and there are a few things I’ve learned that may make remote work more appealing or might give you pause. One thing to be aware of is that for every positive about remote work, there is someone who is looking to scam the system. Stories have come out about people attempting to work two full-time jobs, falsifying their information, and offering work that doesn’t exist.

It’s important to approach every job hiring process with the utmost ethics, especially for nonprofits and ministries. While I won’t be able to provide every scenario about a possible scam, I want to highlight a few things to consider when looking for freelancing work, remote work and when hiring remote workers.

What to Consider When Evaluating a Remote Work Position

First, not every virtual job is equal. Some offer paid time off and benefits. Others are strictly contract-based. Second, sometimes it’s best for overall job performance to work in an office environment. It’s not worth the opportunity to stay home if you have to work twice as many hours to complete the same type of tasks. Before handing over your bank account information for direct deposit, it’s important to know that you’re in a legitimate work role.

Every Job Has Pros and Cons

Transitioning to a remote work job allowed me to remain available for my young kids when they needed me.

  • I was able to work more consistent hours or flex my time as my kids needed me around.
  • I was able to increase my income as my capacity allowed.
  • I was able to devote fewer hours to work overall and earn the same amount of money or more because I cut out travel.
  • I was able to thrive in my sweet spot and use my God-given gifts and talents in ways that energized me.

Working remotely has a lot of benefits, but it also has some negatives to consider. Since your home and office are the same, it can be challenging to set “office hours.” My remote work is contracted and didn’t originally provide vacation or time off for holidays. We were closed for major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we worked through July 4th and Memorial Day.

Third-party services are helpful. However, it’s important to use a vetted platform. Flex Jobs is a more reliable site to use than LinkedIn, even though LinkedIn is a platform for professional networking because LinkedIn doesn’t take responsibility for employer recruiting.

Here are My Tips to Avoid Remote Work Scams

If it Seems Shady: It is Shady

  • A company that has an odd website with bad grammar, vague information, or stock photos is one to avoid.
  • A company that gates content until you pay is most likely a scam. With third-party platforms, the higher the price, the most cautious you should be.
  • If you’re looking at a third-party platform and you can’t access a human over chat, phone, or video call, then it’s time to move on.

If a Company is Really Eager, Proceed with Caution

  • If you didn’t apply with a company or a specific job, but they want you to call them back immediately, it’s most likely a sales pitch.
  • If a company offers you an extremely high salary that isn’t realistic for the work you’re applying for, I’d be concerned. Especially if the job descriptions note anything with a line that says “other duties as assigned.”
  • If they expect you to hand over confidential information immediately, then for sure, say no.

When a Company is Vague About a Job Offer, it Could be a Scam

  • Some companies are vague about the actual job description until you discuss things with them in person. If you cannot get your basic questions answered in an interview, why would you think things will be different after you’re working for the organization?
  • Can your hiring rep tell you who you would report to? Is it possible for you to meet them?
  • Will you have to use your own equipment, and if so, will the company pay you for the inconvenience?

There is a difference between a company that is exploring hiring a remote workforce for the first time and a scammer looking to access personal data from people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are interviewing for a potential job. You are interviewing a company just as much as they are interviewing you!

The most common way people start out working remotely is as an entrepreneur. However, don’t be afraid to take the initiative before applying for jobs and adding certifications to your resume. Especially if you haven’t worked in an industry for long (or at all in a professional sense), it’s a great idea to show that you’re eager to learn.

The best way to avoid remote work scams is by seeking word-of-mouth recommendations. Join LinkedIn groups for networking and ask about legitimate company connections. Finally, don’t be afraid to Google a company or person on BBB and see if anytime comes up. If someone else has been taken advantage of, I bet they have shared it on the internet!

Tips For Hiring Remote Workers

You’d be amazed how many people don’t take advantage of the established company hiring best practices when it comes to contract workers. Often the reasoning is that a contractor is a temporary worker, so it’s not worth the hassle of a full onboarding process. The thing is that whether you’re working with contract workers or traditional workers, the results are the same when you don’t hire the right people. You will spend more time micromanaging your contractors than you will spend working on your own projects. if you hire someone who doesn’t manage their time well or pay attention to details.

Follow Proper Hiring Practices

You need to follow both state and federal laws when hiring employees. That includes retaining proper documents, paying accurate wages, and ensuring employees maintain necessary licensure when required. You need to have a written job description that includes all the expectations for employment, and you should have an established onboarding process.

In addition to the basic HR standards, you need to prepare for a proper interview. In addition to asking some standard interview questions, you should ask specific questions about the details of the skills listed on the applicant’s resume. Anything they offer as a fact about themselves is something you are allowed to ask for additional clarity on.

When you call a candidate’s references, ask specific questions. Here are a few to consider that will give the person some latitude on their answers:

1. What was it like to work with this candidate?

2. What are this candidate’s greatest strengths?

3. What were this candidate’s biggest areas of opportunity while you worked together?

4. What was one of this candidate’s biggest accomplishments while you worked together?

5. If you could hire this candidate again, would you? Why or why not? Note: An employer CAN disclose if they fired an employee.

6. How did this candidate handle challenges?

When you go through a proper hiring process you will have less chances that remote worker will try to scam you.

Establish SOPs for Onboarding, Ongoing Training, and Off-Boarding

An SOP, otherwise known as a standard operating procedure, is a step-by-step process that allows an organization to conduct consistent tasks without supervision. Whether you incorporate video as part of your training medium, your SOP should be a written policy.

For digital marketing purposes, you’ll want to ensure that your team is on the same page regarding the company guidelines. Include an SOP with a style guide if your employees will be communicating digitally.

You’ll want to review the work of your new employees and discuss any corrections you’ll require. Understand there is always a learning curve even when someone goes through training. However, if you find that you’re correcting more tasks than you have time to review, it may be time to re-evaluate your arrangement. Check out these free SOP templates to get started on your organized hiring process.

Whether looking for remote work employment or an opportunity to hire a remote contractor, it’s important to do your due diligence from start and finish. Sadly, even in nonprofit and ministry sectors people will try to take advantage of good people.


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