How to Tell if a Remote Only Job is a Scam

100 percent remote jobs are a hot ticket. After a year of working from home, some people have decided they never want to go back to the office, and, unfortunately, scammers are preying on them.

When you interview for an office-based job, you go in for an interview and can see their situation. You meet actual humans and see their office space. Scammers can (and have) go to great lengths to scam people, but they are not likely to rent office space to get a copy of your social security number and driver’s license. Sure, it can happen. But, the risk is higher with remote-only jobs.

Here is how you can tell if a remote-only job is legitimate.

Real jobs conduct real interviews.

It doesn’t have to be face-to-face to be a real interview, but it should be via video conference. The interviewer will give you a full name, and you can look them up on LinkedIn. (Yes, I know not everyone is on LinkedIn, but a recruiter not on LinkedIn is at least an orange flag.)

You don’t have to pay for equipment.

A real company may have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, but they will be upfront about that. They won’t require you to go out and buy new things for work. If you need specific equipment, they will provide it. If they want you to go out and buy it, they will either give you a budget and specifications or tell you to order it at a specific store, and they will pay for it.

They won’t require you to send them any money for equipment. Sure, they may say, “buy your own laptop, and we’ll reimburse you,” but they won’t say, “send us $700 for a laptop as a deposit.”

Email addresses are real.

An independent recruiter may reach out to you with a Gmail email address, but someone from the company will have an email address with the company’s domain. The Gmail-adorned recruiter will not make you the job offer without talking with someone from the actual company.

They don’t need your driver’s license and social security number for the interview.

Yes, those are needed for background checks (sometimes), and you’ll have to prove who you are when you are hired. Of course, you will need to give a business your social security number to pay taxes correctly. But they don’t need it before the job offer.

Caution: Some legitimate companies do ask for that information in their application, so if you do think it is legitimate and everything is positive, send me an email, and I’ll ask the company why they are asking for a social security number in the application. When I’ve done that, they’ve said, “ooh, oops,” and revised their application.

Time zones will make sense.

Now, scammers are perfectly willing to work in the middle of the night if they have to, but they prefer not to. I’ve had companies reach out to me several times and say they are located in New York or Delaware, or similar. So, I suggest a meeting time that is their morning and my afternoon. (I’m six hours ahead of the US East Coast), and then I’ve had them counter with a time that puts it in the middle of the night in New York, but morning in India.

I’m delighted to work with Indian companies, but not if they want to pretend they are in Delaware.

They don’t mind questions about the business.

In fact, they want you to ask questions about the business! It isn’t a secret. They can clearly explain the company’s purpose, products, and philosophy. It won’t sound sketchy.

They won’t offer you a job after texting with you

If all your communication has been via text or Facebook messenger, it’s not a real job. It’s fine for recruiters to reach out to you that way, but they won’t offer you a job after just texting.

There will be a formal onboarding process.

You will have to fill out an I-9 form, and the company will verify your identification. But it won’t be with you sending them a picture of your driver’s license. There will be a process in place, and it may involve a friend reviewing your identification or going into a notary or something else. It won’t be “scan your driver’s license so that all four corners are visible.”

Paychecks will be based on actual time work and not more than you worked

Legitimate businesses don’t accidentally send you too much money and ask you to pay some of it back. Sure, errors happen from time to time, but not on a first paycheck and not where they send you $2000 and ask you to send back $1000. If that happens, go to your bank immediately and tell them it’s fraud and follow their instructions.

Any other tips for figuring out if a remote job is real? If you spot a sketchy job or have a sketchy job offer, send it to me at

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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2 thoughts on “How to Tell if a Remote Only Job is a Scam

  1. Okay, yes, I realize that what I’m about to say sounds biased, discriminatory, and unkind … and makes me sound like a mean person … but still….

    Pay particular attention to the spelling, grammar, and phraseology (wording) of written materials (emails, advertisements, LI posts, txts, etc.), and pay particular attention to cultural clues.

    Of course, not everyone writes like William Shakespeare (thankfully) but legitimate recruiters/employers will have a good command of the king’s English (assuming that we’re talking about an English-speaking country here).

    And of course, not all people in foreign countries are scammers, and neither are people with less than perfect English.

    But it pays to be careful.

  2. I had a guy contact me about a position that was right in my wheelhouse – said he’d found me on Indeed (I HAD been job hunting the year prior, so that was a possibility). Told me about the company and said they were expanding in the US and needed someone like me. I checked out the company and it looked legit (also had my husband check their DUNS number). Then the interview was via skype messenger… that seemed odd, but again, I thought, well, ok, they’re foreign, maybe this is the best way for them to work this through. But then at the end of the text “interview” I got an offer that was amazing (on the very high end of the scale for my position/experience) and they sent me all the onboarding docs. Being of a suspicious nature, I called the Chamber of Commerce in the City they said they were opening a factory in, and asked to speak to the US head of operations. Silence from the interviewer, and the Chamber confirmed they’d never heard of this company. They almoooooosssssttttt had me. SO, lesson learned, the scammers are really getting good. The worst part is, if I had fallen for it, in addition to them getting my info, I would have given notice at my job and ended up out of work! What a horrible thing to do to people!

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