If you’re new to searching for an e-commuting job, you might be frustrated by the large numbers of scams hiding behind apparently legitimate work-at-home ads. I mean, the ad said it’s a typing job, right? So why is the “employer” now asking you for $50 to buy the training kit?

We have lots of experience with job ads at IveTriedThat. Steve reads so many that ads spill out of his mouth whenever it’s open. Call him on the phone sometime and you’ll hear, “How much money you make is up to you telecommuting is ok live the life you’ve always dreamed of Hello?” It’s sad, really. But his friends are helping him through it.

We’re going to share with you our secrets on how to read work-at-home job ads. This post will show you how to spot a scam after reading just a few words of the ad. No more wasting time reading fruitless ads and writing inquiries only to be disappointed. And these amazing secrets can be yours for a one-time fee of $59.95 $29.95! Act now! Just kidding. It’s free. All you have to do is keep reading.

Stark Differences

Here are two ads from Craigslist, each advertising a work-from-home job:

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Web Content Writers Needed Part Time, Full Time, freelance writers. VRO Websites is hiring writers who can rewrite vacation rental descriptions into the VRO Website format. You will incorporate keywords into the content to help with search enging placement. We have a specific process and format that you will follow to create the property descriptions. We will pay $20 per property. A skilled writer can complete one property in an hour or less; once you have a firm understanding of the format. This is a work at home job, or can be a full time job, hourly job, if you would like to join our staff. We have offices in SE Portland near the corner of Morrison and Grand Ave. Please submit a resume and writing samples. We will contact qualified clients. We need immediate help, so please list your availability as well. www.vrowebsites.com
* Location: SE Portland
* Compensation: $20 per Property Description
* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a part-time job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
Consumer Driven Health Care#1 Leading Health Care Provider Company in the United States is seeking Health Representatives that want to work from home.
Our company has been in business for 14 Great Years with well over 1.7 million satisfied members and still growing
* Compensation: commision
* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a part-time job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!

The one on the left is for a legitimate job, by which I mean an arrangement in which a company or individual pays you a predetermined sum in exchange for your time and/or skill. The one on the right is a “hook” ad for Ameriplan USA. I’m not saying Ameriplan is a scam because I haven’t tried it, but it’s definitely not a job that will bring you a known figure in exchange for a known amount of time. You can learn to identify the “hook” ads in three seconds or less. Here’s how: pretend you’re in an interview.

What if you were in a job interview and the interviewer kept making vague statements about how much money you’re going to earn? What if you asked what kind of work you’ll be doing and he said, “You’ll be helping people achieve financial freedom,” or a similarly vague answer? You’d know something is not right. So take that interview mentality with you when reading work-at-home ads. The following are red flags in part because you’d never see or hear them at an interview for a real job. Individually, they don’t automatically indicate a fake job or “hook ad,” but ads containing more than one of them are almost certainly selling you something other than a job.

  • General job description: After reading the ad on the left you know exactly what you’ll be doing. What kind of work will you be doing for the ad on the right?
  • Exaggerated titles: If a title uses any combination of the following words: money, income, freedom, unlimited, earnings, or success, proceed with caution. Surprisingly, if a title has the phrase “work at home” in it, it’s most likely a scam. Real employers tend to use the word ‘telecommuting,’ or ‘remote’ employees.
  • No specifics about pay: You’ll earn “commission.” Next time you fill out a credit application, write “commission” in the Income line and see how far it gets you. Real employers know exactly how much they’re willing to pay you.
  • Talk about Big Money: While they never give specifics, hook ads do often tantalize you with large numbers. $500/week! Part time! Up to $100 per hour (like the one below)!
  • Exclamation points!!! The hook ad on the right doesn’t have any, but they very often do. Truly exciting job opportunities don’t need exclamation points. That they’re exciting should be self evident from the detailed description.
  • A hyperlink in the ad. Sure, legitimate companies can link to their business Web site, but they often do not. Hook ads need the link because they’ve got to get you to the pre-sell page. Look at this ad, for instance; it contains ONLY a link (and to an unidentifiable short url, at that):

    SIMPLE Data-Entry-At-Home: up to $100 Cash Per HOUR
    (get paid to shop)


    * Location: anywhere
    * Compensation: see website
    * Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
    * Please, no phone calls about this job!
    * Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

  • Insistence upon the job’s honesty and legitimacy. Here’s an actual headline for another Craigslist hook ad:

    Work From Home $1,500 to $3,000 PT or FT Legitimate & Honest Job!!!

    Here’s the thing. Do you believe the guy at work who says he was the funniest and best-looking dude at last weekend’s company picnic? Of course not! By the same token, it never occurs to legitimate employers to tell you that they’re legitimate. If you doubt me, go to your next job interview and ask, “Is this a legitimate job or a scam?” It’s a quick way to end the interview and the funny look on the interviewer’s face might be worth sabotaging your chances.

There are others, but these are the ones we see all the time. With practice, you can learn to identify them at a glance and you will no longer be wasting time pursuing leads that only end in somebody asking you for money.

Have you explored our archives yet? This post is one of the earliest posts we wrote about how to find real work-at-home jobs. Click on the category links on the left to find past articles of interest. We’re closing in on 400 of them.

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Join the Discussion

  • Chantal

    Hmm- your what not to fall for list sounds a lot like the Wealthy Affiliates opportunity you plug on your blog!
    “…vague statements about how much money you’re going to earn…
    No specifics about pay,…Talk about Big Money…! “

    • Joe

      It’s true, Chantal. The difference, however, is that Wealthy Affiliate does not claim to be “a job.” That’s the gripe we have with offers like data entry or rebate processing. They often lead you to believe you’re getting a job. Wealthy Affiliate is honest about what you are getting into.

  • Terry Vigil
    Terry Vigil

    I am a IBO thats an Independent Business Owner and work P/T with Ameriplan…why the $50??? You ask?? It is a Broker fee, which is very small when you think about what you receive to run your Franchise business.
    You get e-Commerce websites – 4 in fact, plus online backoffice to work from, also Ameriplans Corp office out of Dallas, TX; handles all of our Customer Service issues, such as send out new Healthcare Benefit Members ID Cards and books, which includes not only paying the postage, but the labor in packaging, shipping; plus they also handle all calls of inquiries about active plans from members. We also have 24/7 online and phone training; we also receive discounts from places like Office Depot, Sprint, Dell Computers to help us cut cost of running our business. Then in addition, with that $50 you even get a healthcare plan which includes benefits that can save from 25-80% on Dental, Vision, Prescriptions and Chiropractic care for your whole household covering up to 20 individuals (related or not) (yes I typed 20) …..And Ameriplan does pay on a daily basis, for all new business (checks cut within 24 hours) and offer a monthly Residual Income as well on all business enrolled, month after month and year after year; for the life of the plan. And as with all Commission based companies; we have the opportunity to earn additional money bonuses above and beyond our standard compensation, What else can I add…oh Yea.. Ameriplan has as of this past summer, has done away with “Chargebacks”. Which means that if a new member plan cancels…. Since Ameriplan pays our intial earnings 3 months in advance on all new business; and IF a membership or plan cancels, WE DO NOT HAVE TO PAY BACK ANY MONEY….. I think that saids alot for a $50 or even a $100 monthly fee!!! And lets not forget to mention as Franchise owners/Independent Business owners; we get a homebased business deductions to write off at the end of year; which Ameriplan sends out 1099 forms for all earnng. I think Ameriplan is a pretty SAFE investment.

  • Lime

    I’ve always wondered about Ameriplan. What I usually find when googling around is half-and-half, neatly divided between “IT’S TOTAL BULL!” and “IT’S THE BEST THING EVER!” but I’ve cautiously stayed away anyway, just in case the former half is correct.

    Anyway: Love the site! It’s very informative and interesting. Just dropping by for a random drive-by commenting.

  • Mark

    I’ve tried to reply to emails that was used to forward the offer to me; many times I get a reply stating that the email address isn’t a valid email NOT that it can’t receive emails…

  • Deb

    OMG Ameriplan just called me before I read this.

    true story.:(

    Im such a newb

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