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8 Work-From-Home 'Jobs' You Should Avoid

You could be playing into a scam with some work-from-home offers.

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Working from home can be very rewarding, and it can provide the type of lifestyle you've been seeking. The number of remote jobs is also increasing, with 20 to 30 million people working from home at least one day a week. If you're ready to start working remotely, it's important to do your due diligence and use reputable job sites to find a legitimate work-from-home job.

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However, there are some work-from-home jobs that just aren't worth the time or energy. According to FlexJobs, there are 60-70 scams for every legitimate job opportunity, so we've covered some of the most common scams to help save you time on your search. When in doubt, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

1. Stuffing Envelopes

Stuffing envelopes is the oldest scam in the book, dating back to the 1920s. Many people consider this to be a pyramid scheme that will end up costing you more than you make. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the only way to make money from this "job" is to persuade your friends and family to sign up for the same scam that you did.

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Often, you'll be required to invest in a starter kit, so you'll need to spend money upfront, and typically, the kit never even arrives. It is extremely rare that anyone actually makes money stuffing envelopes, and even if you did make money, it would be in the pennies, or you would only generate income if the mailings generate responses.

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2. Craft Making

It may sound like fun to craft for a living, but you will often spend more than you make with these endeavors. If you are required to pay for your own materials upfront, this is a good sign that it's a scam. Most of these companies are making money selling the starter kits, not selling the assembled product. Often, the company will claim the crafts you assembled don't meet their specifications (even if you assembled them perfectly), so you won't get paid for your hard work and will be left with assembled crafts that you can't use.

3. Costly Billing

Any position that requires you to purchase expensive computer software or equipment upfront is typically a scam. Medical billing "jobs" typically require this. In fact, when it comes to medical billing, the vast majority of offices choose not to outsource their billing services to individuals in order to observe health care privacy rules. Instead, they opt for established companies with on-site, trained workers.

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4. Check Cashing

Typically, these types of jobs will require you to cash a check in your personal bank account. You get to keep a portion of the check and send the remainder to the hiring company. In most cases, the check is a fake and you will be held financially responsible. Cashing a check for someone puts the full responsibility on you. This means that if the check bounces, it's your responsibility to repay the debt. Along with potentially costing you money, check-cashing schemes can be illegal.

5. Money Laundering

This scheme works similarly to a check-cashing scheme. You will be asked to transfer money in and out of your personal bank account. This money may have been acquired through illegal means, which means that you could be at risk of having criminal charges brought against you.

6. Filling Out Surveys

Completing online surveys may seem like fun, easy work, but you will only get paid pennies for each one — meaning it will usually take more than a day to make just $1. These companies usually don't pay out until you've made $20 or more, which can take weeks or even months. It's just not worth your time.

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7. Reshipping Services

This "job" may sound simple enough. You are required to accept shipped goods to then repackage and ship them to new locations. However, the items have usually been ordered with stolen credit cards, which means that you could be at risk of prosecution for the transport of stolen goods.

8. Postal Jobs

While working for the post office isn't a scam in itself, one of the most common work-from-home scams is for hidden or "previously undisclosed" federal government jobs, such as post office positions. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), any federal and postal job postings should be free to apply to and can be found on USAjobs.gov or through the USPS site.

Another common scam is paying someone to help you pass the postal exam. This exam is basically an aptitude test, so it isn't something you need to study for. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to pay for practice exams or tips to help you pass. Some companies will even offer a refund if you don't pass the postal exam, but then won't pony up when you do fail.

How to Avoid a Scam

The best way to avoid a terrible work-from-job is to do your research. Check the company out on the Better Business Bureau, look online for complaints or reviews, and think twice before spending any money on the position. You should be cautious of any job that requires you to pay money upfront for supplies, training programs, or application processing fees. You should never have to pay to get a job. If the job title or description is generic or vague, this can also be a red flag. (See also: 6 Ways to Spot Work-at-Home Job Scams)

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If you're confident you're working for a legitimate company, but they still want you to purchase equipment or software upfront, inquire about the return policy if the position doesn't work out. Most importantly, you should never give out your credit card or bank account number to a potential employer. Another red flag is if they ask for any sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number or driver's license number. Not only is this a red flag, but it may also put you at risk of identity theft.

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This article is from Andrea Cannon of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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This article is from Wise Bread, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.