There are many people looking for online and work-at-home opportunities. Scammers know this, and they also mean to capitalize on anyone who is not able to spot a scam. Oftentimes, the scam arrives by email, and the person who opens that email either loses money, has his computer infected by malware, or even becomes the victim of identity theft.
In the fast-paced world of computer hacking and Internet scams, how do you spot a scam email before you expose yourself to its dangers? Here are 10 telltale signs that your work-at-home email is touting a scam and not a genuine work opportunity:
1. Spelling and/or grammar errors
Any online employer and/or marketer worth her salt will triple check her email for spelling and/or grammatical errors prior to sending it out. This goes double for someone whose native language isn’t English. Scammers and spammers, on the other hand, don’t care and don’t want to pay for the resources to correct their emails.
2. A child domain URL
Email phishing scammers rely on recipients not being aware of how domain naming structures work. In this way, the scammers create official-looking emails from Microsoft, Google, etc., that have nothing to do with those companies.
For example, the URL Smiley.IveTriedThat.com indicates that Smiley is a child domain of I’ve Tried That, because IveTriedThat.com is at the very end of the domain name. As such, Smiley belongs to I’ve Tried That.
But let’s say I wanted to create a scam email that looked like it originated from I’ve Tried That. I could use my own site and create a page on it that contained phishing code, then name that site IveTriedThat.PhishingScamSite.com. To the untrained eye, it appears that I’ve Tried That is sending out an email to the recipient; however, it’s really my scam website that’s doing the deed.
3. Threats and demands
It’s very rare that a legitimate business will announce that there is pending action against you, or that you are about to be sued, lose your account access, etc., via email. For example, the IRS will never call you about your audit; the agency always sends notice by physical mail.
If you’re not sure, call the company directly and ask whether there is an issue with your account. Don’t just reply to the email, and above all else, do not provide your personal details in an email.
4. No signature
Legitimate work-at-home businesses share the sender’s full name, email, telephone and mailing address. Email scammers, meanwhile, don’t provide much more information than a first name.
If you can’t reach the person or company that wrote you, don’t count on that entity having your best interest in mind.
5. Request for personal information
Scammers will obtain as much personal information from you as possible so that they can crack into your social media, bank, credit card, and other accounts. Sometimes, this will occur through a series of emails that you assume you are answering independently.
If you are being asked for your home address, phone number, etc. in exchange for an online job, don’t do it. No employer asks for your personal details before asking for a summary of your work experience or resume.
Unless you are expecting a file from someone you know, don’t open any email attachments. Scammers will often send malware and spyware through attachments, which when opened can result in your computer being infected by a virus, keystroke tracker, etc.
7. No clear reason provided
Employers and clients don’t just contact you out of the blue and offer you paid work. In the real world, you must fill out an application, submit your resume, and/or at least create a detailed profile on Career Builder, Monster or LinkedIn. When employers or clients get a hold of you, they usually state how they came across your information.
If you have no idea how someone got your name, or why they are writing you about a certain online “job,” then you are probably receiving a scam email for a bogus work-at-home opportunity.
8. The offer is too good to be true.
Earn $800 for a few hours of work? Make money on autopilot? If the work offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A real work-at-home job requires actual work, not shortcuts. If the email makes it sound like you’ll be doing nothing all day while collecting big paychecks, there’s probably a catch. Don’t be fooled into giving away your credit card or other personal information.
9. No true program reviews
If a work-at-home opportunity is for real, it’s probably got a few online reviews. And by online reviews, I don’t mean the self-serving and vaguely disguised promotional reviews generated by program affiliates.
Before you reply to that email, do some online sleuthing and find out what others have said about the work-at-home program that you’ve received. It could turn out to be a legitimate opportunity, or it could be just another attempt to have you part with your money (and time).
10. You’re being asked for money.
Phishing emails often ask you to front some cash in exchange for an online job. You shouldn’t have to pay for work- ever. Also, if you are going to pay for a subscription to an online work site, you should be offered a (cheap) trial version of the plan before you fully commit.