Is This Job Offer a Scam?

Phone call from someone who’d seen my resume on a job website (e.g. Monster.)

They want me to be available to be dispatched at odd times to customer sites to repair computers and printers. I would get paid $50 for each call…but no assurance how many calls in a day. Okay, I’m willing to gamble.

No actual boss or supervisor. I’d be “my own boss.” They asked for banking information (uh oh!) but also said they’d mail a check, so I don’t have to give banking info.

Is this a valid kind of job, or am I being set up for something?

Sounds like both. Here’s an example that I encountered:

There’s this company called Global that put an ad in the Employment section of the Post once a month or so. Part of the recruitment spiel was that Global recently got into publishing encyclopedias; they were looking for people to “be their own boss” and take the books door-to-door.

First time I went out solo, I encountered a family who had already been visited by a Global representative and bought a set of enclyclopedias from them. 10 years prior!

Pretty much quit on the spot.

This one has a highly sophisticated web site – who’d pay that much for a web interface? If it is a masquerade, it’s a good one… I’m still scared…

On the internet, nobody knows your web designer is a dog. Looks can be deceiving.

I imagine we might be able to say more if we had more facts to go on.

At worst, I suspect that it is a legitimate offer but they’re misrepresentating the company like Global did.

There are lots of outfits that hire Subcontractor techs to do work scattered all over, I get calls from these places about once a week asking if I would be willing to take on such work. Every once in a while I take one of them up on their offer, probably done 15 jobs for 10 different places. Actually got paid for like 12 of them. $50/call isn’t bad especially if you are getting “setup grannys printer” kind of calls. You can bang out 3-4 a day easily and have a basic paying the bills income after gas. These types of gigs can also be great for helping kickstart you if you are trying to build a small IT business.

If they are sending you out to deal with multi machine OS migrations, working on anything in server environments, or other more complex work I would tell them to go find a short pier.

OK… so what would be the early warning signs of it being a scam?

For one, if they ask you to invest money up front in equipment, supplies or certification, etc.

Another would be if they expect you to transact any of the financial side of the business (apart from simple receipt of wage) through your own account, or with your own funds.

Would your resume lead someone to believe this is work you are well-qualified for? More qualified than most other resumes on Monster? If not, then while it may not be a scam to directly steal your money, it almost certainly is a scam to take advantage of you through low pay and/or fees like Mangetout mentions.

And even if you are uniquely qualified, it still sounds a little fishy. Go in with your eyes open and read everything carefully.

Nothing like this has popped up yet. But I’m being very watchful…

I guess I’ll go forward with this…but very, very carefully. A little paranoia. I’m thinking that even if it’s real, it’s likely very marginal work, little pay for maybe one or two calls a day. Even that is something I’m willing to dick with for a while.

There are items in my resume that make this a decent fit for me; I’ve done repair tech work. So it isn’t totally out of the blue.

I’m just wondering, as Mangetout asks, what are the early warning signs?

For instance, I’m responsible for providing my own tools. Well, that’s a bummer, but not unrealistic. If they tell me I have to buy a tool kit from them…I walk away.

“Be careful, Sinbad. He who walks on fire will burn his feet.”

Assuming that they don’t ask for money, it doesn’t sound like a scam but rather a job where they get all the benefits. If people sign up they get a pool of repair people on call without having to pay for down time.
Did they say where these calls are? If you have to drive an hour there and back, $50 is pretty poor pay for it.
Do they say how often you have to be on call? If the entire day, you won’t be able to do anything else.
One thing to think about - do they want to do a background check on you? If not they are incompetent - they are arranging for you to go into people’s homes without knowing if you are an axe murderer or something.
How about insurance? If something happens and the computer blows up, are you responsible?
What about if you have a cord out and the little old lady trips over it and breaks a hip. Does she sue you or them?
Things to think about even if it isn’t a scam.

Maybe I’m an idot, but what sort of “tools” are needed other than some small screw drivers and maybe a can of compressed air? As other suggested, it might be legitimate given the low pay and risk from their end. If they are essentially hiring out an independent, on-call geek squad, that fee would be about right.

Step 1 is do a search of the company along with words like ‘scam’.

Step 2 would be to define the scope and distance of the work. As others said, you should not be expected to drive more than a certain distance away, and only do certain types of jobs. I would want to know in advance that the job wouldn’t take more than 30-60 minutes and was a plug and play type thing with a simple install of software. If you have to set up grandma’s wireless router, that’s fine. If grandma wants you to scan and catalog 10,000 pictures for her, or remove endless amounts of malware she installed with those “free” online poker games, then not so fine.

What constitutes a “call” and who determines when a “call” is “complete”? Say you show up to find someone standing over a melted pile of something that may have been a computer/printer/monitor at some point, but nothing short of Borg technology is going to fix it. Do you still get the $50? What if it is fixable, but takes 4 hours to recalibrate the deflector dish or whatever esoteric thing you know how to do…still only $50 for you?

Good point. But it doesn’t even have to be so obvious. I tried to fix the computer of my daughter’s riding instructor. It was so old and so crammed with stuff that it was thrashing itself to death. It took five minutes to do anything. Fine if you are at home and can do other stuff, not so fine on-site.
I told her to get a new computer. Then I had to remove viruses, but at least it was fast. I’m not sure grandma would want to pay for being told to buy a new computer, though.

Why not just give the name of the company out to see if anyone’s dealt with them before? Personally, that a company would contract you without doing any training or evaluation would be a massive red flag in my books. It shows a company that doesn’t care about it’s reputation which suggests it doesn’t have much of one to begin with.

They do let me choose my own hours, and they do allow me to “wave off” a call. Obviously, the more hours I choose, the more money, and I’m guessing they don’t appreciate being waved off too many times.

Good points here. No background check, and, also scary, they never said anything about issuing me an ID card. How the heck is the customer supposed to be sure I’m the right guy?

No idea re insurance, and no idea re end-user satisfaction. This is looking worse and worse.

The latter was definitely mentioned: I get the whole $50 even if I fix it in ten minutes…but if it runs to a full day of hot nasty work…still only the $50.

I’m thinking more and more about backing out…

I’m tempted to give the name…but I can’t figure if it would be ethical. Sure, it’s an anonymous board, but it might lead to the company contacting the SMDB, and that’s something the SDMB wants no part of at all! I like this place a lot and don’t want to get warned or banned.

(Hey, mods, love ya, thinking only the best for all concerned!)

Now, ask me what I think of Windows 8… :wink:

Who decides if a job is done? Do you get paid anything for a job that a customer says isn’t done? I recently had an old printer that quit working with Windows 8 because the manufacturer didn’t provide a Windows 8 driver, so there was no good way to make it work. If you get called to a job like this, do you get nothing?

Assuming it’s legit, the risk is probably entirely with you. The customer pays them $100, they pay you $50 no matter what your hours. If the customer doesn’t pay for some reason, you get zilch no matter how much time you put in and they’ve lost nothing.