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How to Avoid Freelance Job Scams

We’ve all seen them, and I’m sure many of us have been secretly been tempted to try them at one point in time. You know, those ads for work from home freelance jobs that promise you can make $1000-2000 a week, or much more, working part-time. Don’t fall sucker to ads that promise the world.

I’m going to expose some common freelance job scams, show you the warning signs to look out for, teach you how to protect yourself from these work from home freelance job scams, and I’ll even give you some examples of legitimate work from home freelance jobs.

Some of the Most Common Work From Home Job Scams

If you see ads for any of these opportunities, be skeptical:

  1. Envelope-stuffing
  2. Home product assembly
  3. Home typing / Ad typist
  4. Affiliate websites or web writing based on ad revenues
  5. Multi-level marketing
  6. Medical billing
  7. Generic ads promising a lot of money, only a little bit of time, and no details whatsoever

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Warning Signs With Freelance Job Scams

If you come across any of these scenarios, the smart move is to run:

  1. The promises are too good to be true (they almost always are).
  2. Pay for the freelance job is based on advertising revenue (your pay should not vary based on a client’s ability to attract advertisers every month).
  3. Details about your actual work from home duties are sketchy, or they’re not listed at all.
  4. You find the work from home freelance job ad in a flashy web banner, on a telephone post, tacked to a bulletin board, or on a flyer inserted in a library book.
  5. You have to attend a seminar to learn how to get the work from home freelance job.
  6. You’re asked to send money. Never, ever, pay to land a job.

Protect Yourself From Work at Home Scams

If you still find a questionable work at home job ad hard to resist, take these steps to minimize your risk:

  1. Do a WhoIs search on their web site. This will often show you who owns and operates the site.
  2. See if they’re in the Yellow Pages.
  3. Check the BBB for previous complaints.
  4. Ask them to send the info to you in writing.
  5. Check with the FTC and your state attorney general’s office about known work from home freelance job scams.

Additional Tips

Here are a few more things you can do to protect yourself from falling victim to freelance job scams:

  1. Never take a work from home freelance job ad at face value.
  2. Never send money for information about a work from home freelance job. Again, never.
  3. Always do your research on the company before you sign up for anything.
  4. Never attend a seminar where someone promises to teach you how to get rich quick with a work from home freelance job opportunity.
  5. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it almost always is.

Have you ever been the victim of a freelance job scam? Have you seen a rise in any particular type of advertised work from home job scams? Tell me about your experiences or share additional warnings in the comments below.

Note: This article was originally published on March 11, 2007 and has since been updated.


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  3. Summer

    I can recommende something in this field, as I’ve wroked as a freelance writer for several years. It’s an awfully great option of working at home. You regulate your workload by yourself, receive certain sums of money. The majority of companies providing writers with orders are reliable ones. I’ve worked for Asiawriters for a long time and have never been frauded. Here’s my point/

  4. Jennifer Mattern

    I guess it depends on all of our individual definitions of “scams.” For example, I’d lump that site in that group for a couple of reasons.

    1. They say they target freelance writers, but in fact they treat writers like employees. If you’re filling out applications, taking tests, and waiting weeks on an HR department, you’re not quite freelancing. And if a company is going to treat you more like an employee, they also better be offering the benefits of being an employee. The site is misleading.

    2. They claim on the site that they can get you better paying gigs than you could get elsewhere. That’s just not true. Up to $30 per page might be okay in some areas of the world, but on a larger scale it’s not even close to what freelancers can get. That includes freelancers in Asia who write for clients elsewhere.

    That also comes from someone who’s worked as a freelance writer for several years (over 10) and someone who helps freelance writers break away from these kinds of sites that make a lot of promises but generally don’t deliver much. In this case you have a site that has over 1000 registered writers and barely over 160 available jobs. That says a lot.

  5. Caitlin

    Of course, it’s hard to argue with the second point concerning financial aspect, but still. I have experience of working for I guess it’s something similar to the Asiawriters. And it does work on freelance pattern. I control my workload completely by myself. Noone tells me how much I sould fulfill for a paticular period of time. Being a student and having loads of another work, it’s essential for me to regulate the number of my orders by myself.

  6. Jennifer Mattern

    The fact that one aspect works on a “freelance pattern” does not make it true freelance work. It’s one small part of the equation. And when companies call you a freelancer but they treat you like an employee in other ways, they can be breaking the law. And you’re the one who pays for it. For the employer benefits they want, they have to pay benefits, worker’s comp insurance, half of the taxes, etc. To get employer benefits they have to pay those things. They can’t have you pay for those things by calling you a freelancer but still get other benefits of being an employer. It’s not legal. It doesn’t work that way. And perhaps more importantly, it’s very unethical. And as a freelancer, you live or die based on your personal brand. Associating yourself with unethical companies can hurt you for years to come. There’s no way around that fact. If you’re just a hobby writer trying to earn a few bucks while you’re in school, that’s one thing. The site might be fine. But for professional freelancers, they’re never a good idea. You can learn much more about them at my freelance writing site — We go out of our way to help freelancers get away from these sites that exist largely to exploit them, and we go into much more detail about the legal issues of sites like these crossing legal and ethical lines between being employers and clients.

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