Millions of people have found a way out of their paycheck-to-paycheck existence. They have joined the gig economy. Hardly noticeable ten years ago, the side gig has become mainstream.
The gig economy offers you a way to bring in additional income, during your off hours. Increasingly, though, gig jobs have become full-time positions. What started out as a way to bridge the gap between your income and expenses has for many become a pathway to full-time entrepreneurship.
We’ve posted before about how to get your side gig working for you and how to find legitimate work from home positions. Joining the gig economy is one popular and successful way to increase your income so you can get rid of debt and meet your savings goals.
Joining the Gig Economy Requires Caution
When searching for your gig job, you need to exercise caution. Scammers prey on people desperate to make extra money. Therefore, no matter how pressed you are to meet your financial obligations, take a breath and take your time. Be patient. Have a plan and read everything carefully.
Don’t let your emotions cause you to jump into a situation without a thorough investigation.
Research the companies and platforms listing gig jobs before you make the first contact. Establish their legitimacy. Check them out on social media. Look for a physical location. Search on Google for reviews, comments or posts related to scams or problems with the potential gig employer.
Some Work-from-home Jobs Should be Ignored
There are many gig jobs that may be legitimate, but they come with risks. It could take a long time before you see any rewards.
- Multi-level marketing
- Product re-seller or wholesaler
- Stock trading systems
- Pyramid schemes
Here is a short list of scams you want to watch out for as you make your way into the gig economy.
The Amazon.com scam goes like this: You get an email or voice mail message that Amazon.com has a lucrative gig job for you. They will pay you several hundred dollars per day. They send you a link where you go to sign up.
Amazon.com does not solicit freelancers. And Amazon work-from-home gigs tend to pay around $15 per hour. So a solicitation like this should be a BIG red flag. But lots of people are blinded by the familiar brand name and miss the warning signs.
The Forwarding Scam
Beware of all job offers that require you to forward a package or email. These appear to be easy, mindless side jobs that you can easily do and make some quick money. But it’s not legit.
What happens? The scammer advertises that he needs help with accepting and forwarding packages. Typically the ad will say that it is a service for people out of town or on an extended business trip at home and unable to accept their packages.
The package contains stolen goods. You get the package and then you send it to the new location as instructed. Once you send it, you allegedly get the money. However, more often than not, you get a visit from the police inquiring about your involvement in trading in stolen goods.
A second one involves forwarding email. The job offer will say that you can earn money with a certain company simply by forwarding emails. The company may seem legitimate and as in the previous example, the job appears easy and mindless. BUT, to get started you need special software, which you need to download after paying the download charge.
You never get the software and you don’t get your money back.
While there are many legitimate data entry gig jobs, scammers are lurking there too. What usually happens is you apply for the gig, send your resume, go through an interview and at the end, they make you an offer. You’re all ready to start, but you need their special software which can cost hundreds of dollars. But, because you really need the extra income, and data entry is something you can easily do, you purchase the software. Once they have your money, the job offer disappears and the software never downloads.
The number of people around the world working remotely has mushroomed over the past decade. In many cases, these are employees working from home instead of going into the office every day. But an increasing number of companies are going global with their remote workforce recruitment strategies. Most are legitimate, but you need to be extremely careful.
Make sure the company has a physical address, telephone number, and a digital presence. Do your research. And if you’ve never heard of the country, probably the company is a fraud.
If It’s Too Good to be True, it Probably Isn’t
You don’t have to knock yourself out with your side gig, but if someone is offering to pay you for doing practically nothing, you can assume it is a scam. This is a favorite one for online scammers. They call it “passive income opportunities.” You will passively lose all your money!
Con Artists Don’t Rest
The scammers are always a step ahead. As soon as we figure out their game, they switch and find the next trending weakness. You may not be able to join the gig economy as quickly as you want. In the meantime, try cutting back on all your expenses and living on the minimum. It will be worth it, in the end, to stay safe and not lose your money to fraudsters.
If you do see scams during your search for a gig, report it immediately to the attorney general’s office in your state. If you fell for the trap and gave money or provided personal data, contact your bank, credit card company, credit reporting agencies, social security office and of course your attorney general’s office.