Finding legitimate work at home jobs requires learning how to recognize a scam, while developing the critical thinking and research skills that you'll need to find reputable employers. As the Better Business Bureau indicates in its overview of home-based job scams, working hard isn't enough. You must also work smart. If you're willing to do the due diligence, you'll spend less time answering blind ads and will be able to find better places for your talents.
Approach Established Companies
Seek out employers with a good reputation and an established industry track record. Start by consulting venues like the Retirement Jobs website for senior citizen job opportunities, advises "Fortune" magazine contributor Anne Fisher in her September 2011 article, "Yes, Legitimate Work-at-Home Jobs Do Exist." Also, look for large companies specializing in phone- and computer-based jobs, like graphic design work or customer service inquiries, that are normally done off-site. To find them, consult job boards, magazines, organizations and websites for home-based employees.
Don't Pay for Work
Never pay for a job or a promise to find one. The more cash you're asked to pay upfront, the more likely you're dealing with a scammer, says Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. Be especially wary of online ads that ask you to fill out forms to access a job opportunity. Otherwise, you risk disclosing sensitive financial data to fraudsters who'll run up recurring charges on your credit card.
Get Firsthand Information
Contact friends and neighbors who do work at home, and ask if the job you're considering sounds too good to be true. If you're asked to sell an item, the Better Business Bureau recommends talking with people who handle similar products. If you have a specialized skill, visit job boards dedicated to your trade. Also, don't bypass more traditional information sources -- like alumni associations and professional trade organizations -- that can provide advice and referrals.
Investigate the Employer
Search the company's public track record. Type in keywords like "complaints," "reviews" or "lawsuits" to evaluate a potential employer's reputation. Doing a general keyword search by company name or officers should reveal other useful items like financial statements and news articles. Review websites for specifics of a company's location, mission and staff, which blind ads don't typically contain. If you can't pinpoint any of these details, the ad -- or the so-called job -- is probably a scam.
Other Rules to Remember
Check multiple online resources to confirm any home-based job's legitimacy. Don't just rely on a Better Business Bureau report or Federal Trade Commission search. Shady companies often change names or take multiple identities to evade detection. Calling the secretary of state's office where a company is located will help you determine how long it's been in business. Your local postal inspector or state attorney general's office can also advise of any complaints involving a home-based employer.