A new work-from-home job scam relies on big names to trap victims

Work-from-home jobs are the new 9-to-5.

In the same way that orange is the new black, or that audiobooks are the new reading or that zoodles are the new pasta. (That is, they sound like the next right move, but they all come with their own set of drawbacks.)

Not everyone looks good in orange, for example, and not being able to dog ear your favorite part of a book poses a real problem, obviously — but are there drawbacks to working from home?

Well yeah, there’s a pretty big one — and believe it or not, I’m not talking about how weird your friends think you are when you tell them, “Guys, I totally speak cat now” after a long work-week cooped up inside.

No indeed. The real issue people are facing as they pursue a from-home career?

RELATED: 6 work-from-home jobs that are thriving right now: 

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6 Work From Home Jobs That Are Thriving In The Digital Age
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6 Work From Home Jobs That Are Thriving In The Digital Age

Graphic designers combine art and technology to advertisements, brochures, corporate reports and company websites. Work can be done either manually or on a computer, and tasks include layout and production. It's common for graphic designers to freelance, but often they have staff positions (with benefits!) that allow them to telecommute.

Number of Jobs: 279,200

Average Hourly Salary: $20.92

Outlook: Jobs for graphic designers working with computers is estimated to grow by 61 percent by 2020, or six times the average for all positions in the field. The development of new applications for mobile technology will help boost opportunities in the field. But as more and more platforms see new design opportunities, demand will grow for versatility with interactive skills.

Top Industries: computer systems design; advertising/public relations

Looking for a graphic design job? Click here to get started.

An event planner develops a large client base by coordinating business meetings, client presentations, off-site retreats and parties. Much of the work is acting as a middleman between clients and event hosts as well as other service providers. And so the planner will solicit bids from a range of workers, from florists to photographers. A Certified Meeting Planner credential will help one stand out.

Number of Jobs: 71,600

Average Hourly Salary: $21.76

Outlook: The field is expected to see "rapid employment growth," according to the BLS, which estimates that jobs will increase by 44 percent by 2020. A combination of factors is contributing to the new opportunities. With the growth of remote work, companies are increasingly adding international hubs, creating a need for periodic meetings to bring together the whole staff. Also, the growth of health care services is a positive for the industry, as that field often ranks high as one that requires large meetings.

Top Industries: meeting, convention and event planners; business/professional/political organizations; health care

Looking for an event planning job? Click here to get started.

Computer support specialists provide tech support to both individuals and organizations. The support specialist is required to both test and maintain computer networks. They will also be required to set up new systems, which would require site visits for the at-home worker. But chat programs and telephones allow for remote work.

Number of Jobs: 607,100

Average Hourly Salary: $22.24

Outlook: The faster rate of upgrading new systems will create more opportunities for support specialists. While the health care industry is expected to greatly increase its need for information technology over the next decade, lower level jobs in call centers are expected to be increasingly sent overseas. Overall, opportunities are expected to grow 18 percent by 2020.

Top Industries: computer operations; computer support specialists; systems design firms

Looking for a computer support job? Click here to get started.

Software developers create programs for a range of devices, from computers to larger networks. They can help develop word processing systems, games and databases. A background in coding is essential.

Number of Jobs: 913,100

Average Hourly Salary: $43.52

Outlook: The BLS projects software work to be one of the fastest-growing American sectors for the next decade. Jobs are expected to grow at a clip of 30 percent. The rise of mobile technology is expected to especially drive growth in opportunity. As software becomes more universal, businesses are expected to customize programs for their needs, creating more jobs at individual firms.

Top Industries: Computer Systems Design Firms; Software Publishers; Corporate Management

Looking for a software development job? Click here to get started.

Hired to protect their employer's image, public relations specialists write media releases, plan events and maintain relationships with the press to boost coverage. Public relations specialists can also be asked to raise donations and drum up grants for organizations.

Number of Jobs: 320,000

Average Hourly Salary: $27.67

Outlook: Jobs in the field are expected to grow 21 percent by 2020, but is expected to be particularly strong among workers (versus managers) as more companies contract out work. Overall growth is expected to be particularly strong as organizations continue to emphasize community outreach in the hopes of standing out. The increasing explosion of social media platforms also create many opportunities in public relations.

Top Industries: public relations; corporate management

Looking for a public relations job? Click here to get started.

Database administrators store and organize data, from financial to manufacturing information. Among administrators' chief assignments is to make sure data are readily available to workers and to oversee protection of data. Companies also rely on database administrators to make sure data is backed up.

Number of Jobs: 110,800

Average Hourly Salary: 73,480

Outlook: Due to an increase of tasks required by the administrator, the field is projected to grow by 31 percent by 2020, the BLS expects. And as more businesses grow in the field of data collection itself, experienced database administrators will be in higher demand. 

Top Industries: database administrators; computer systems

Looking for a database administration job? Click here to get started.

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Scams.

As the popularity of work-from-home jobs increases, so do the opportunities for work-from-home job-related scams — and (awful) people are taking full advantage of this new scam-prone corner of the market.

Last week, FlexJobs, a job service that helps users search for flexible and telecommuting work options, shared a blog post about an increasingly common scam which involves the use of FlexJobs’ name — a name that many seasoned job hunters have grown to trust.

The scammers are using several other sites’ names, as well, including those of ZipRecruiter, Indeed and Upwork.

The blog post from FlexJobs discusses some of the sneaky tricks scammers use to make these false job opportunities seem like the real deal, including:

  • Claiming they’re with a recognizable company such as FlexJobs or Indeed. This helps to create a false sense of security in their victims.
  • Using a vague email address that isn’t associated with the company they claim to represent. For example, “johndoe@gmail.com” probably isn’t in a position of power at a successful recruiting firm.
  • Asking for an interview via Skype or Facebook Messenger. Accounts on platforms like these are harder to trace, so scammers use them often.
  • Using poor grammar, spelling and punctuation or weird, stiff wording. A legitimate employer will strive to write clearly and professionally, so an abundance of typos, misspellings and sentence errors should be a red flag.
  • Asking for your bank or other financial information. Scammers will often claim that they need this information for some piece of equipment that they’re going to send you, like a laptop. (Spoiler alert: They will not send a laptop.)

If you need some more help spotting a work-from-home job scam, check out this post that will walk you through a scammer’s email — line by line — and show you what to watch out for.

Just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.

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