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How To Work From Home Without Getting Scammed

work at home jobs

Everyone wants to work from home, and as technology improves, more positions each year are available to the pajama-clad home workforce — but scams also seem more prolific as time passes.

A legitimate work from home job is considered the Holy Grail for many families battling work life balance issues, and reduced childcare costs and commuting expenses are two of the myriad reasons more workers hope the opportunity to telecommute presents itself.

But work from home scams that prey upon this ever-present desire have made many wary of the leap to a home office, and rightly so. A recent Wisconsin work from home opportunity that turned out to be an elaborate version of a common banking scam cost a single mom of four more than $3,000, and she tells local news sources:

“I went to the bank, deposited the checks (they sent me two checks) totaling almost $4,000. About three days later – received note saying they`re fraudulent checks and I was now in a hole.”

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says that type of work from home scam is all too common, leaving work from home hopefuls on the hook for thousands and even possibly in danger of arrest and jail time:

“The scam artist is counting on the bank releasing the money or you having sufficient funds in your account to cover the expense check back to the scam artist. You don`t discover the check is going to bounce until after you`ve wired or sent the money back to the scam artist.”

Ultimately, in a “soft” job market, work from home jobs are going to be at least as hard to come by as work at work jobs — but not all opportunities are scams.

The battle becomes less difficult if you already have a job and can potentially transfer to at least some at-home hours, and Salary.com has tips on negotiating a work from home sitch. (Case in point: studies show work from home employees are more productive and effective than their on-site counterparts.)

In the not too distant future, HuffPo UK theorizes, you may not even have to ask your boss to work from home.

One writer says employers are, on their own, coming around to their own work from home benefits, saying:

“I’ll give you an example and for simplicity’s sake, let’s say your commute is an hour each way. Your work year contains 253 days in 2013, and if you work from home two days a week that’s a saving of 25.3 days. That means that you’re saving 10% of your work year simply by not commuting two days a week. At a company level, given that 60% of hours are recycled back to work – that’s an efficiency increase of 6%. For every 16 people who work from home two days a week, your employer will create a whole person’s worth of time each year.”

So while work from home opportunities are out there and for real, it’s worth keeping in mind that “too good to be true” offers are undoubtedly a huge risk — and as the writer above suggests, simply selling an employer on why a work from home spot saves them money is your best bet to finagle a telecommuting job.

Not already employed? You can also work from home by offering an existing skill on a freelance basis, and many junior-level administrative employees have built successful careers as virtual assistants.

Have you managed to find a legitimate work from home job?

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