It’s an age-old truth that desperation attracts bottom feeders, and any pocket of society that contains a high amount of desperation will also become a breeding ground for those who wish to turn the urgent needs of others into cash for themselves. Unemployment offers just such a pocket. There will always be scammers lurking around the unemployed, hoping to take advantage of those who will do anything for a job.
The best way to avoid scams is to keep your desperation under control. Maintain a cool head and don’t let the urgency of your situation get the best of you. Your bank account may be dwindling, but that’s no reason to leap without looking, abandon your dignity, or sign anything without reading the fine print. A foolish move is a foolish move, no matter how long you’ve been out of work.
Remember that you aren’t alone. Your situation may feel unique, but it isn’t. There are many others out there treading the same paths and making the same decisions in pursuit of the same goal. Once you realize how common these paths and these decisions are, you’ll be less likely to view an opportunity as one-in-a-million, tailor-made just for you, or only available for a limited time. Don’t get excited about anything that seems too perfect or too perfect for you.
If you find yourself drawn toward something because it seems easy, lucrative or made for you, then investigate if you must, but do so with one hand on your wallet. If the offer in question is a legitimate job, money will flow to you, not away from you. Don’t sign on with anyone who asks you to pay them. They should be paying you. If a job requires you to invest any money or pay any upfront fees, just walk away.
As a general rule of thumb, walk away from anyone who offers you a chance to work at home making as much money as you want. See the rule above: Your desires are not unique. Everyone in the world wants to work from home, and everyone wants flexible earning power. Also, steer clear of any job posting that seems too eager to sell, rather than buy. If an advertised job seems to offer everything and require nothing (no specific skills, experience, qualifications, education or sacrifice) then it probably isn’t a job. Be skeptical if a post contains too many exclamation points or italics. These plus a few misspelled words should be a terminal red flag.
Before you complete any forms that ask for your personal information or social security number, make sure you activate every one of your internal scam sensors. And remember: desperation makes you vulnerable, but a cool head can protect your interests and keep you safe. If you sense anything fishy, back away, stay calm and confident, and just keep looking.