Common Data Entry Job Scams

Examples of Data Entry Scams and How to Avoid Them

Young woman working on computer at desk at home
••• Westend61 / Getty Images

If you're looking for an online data entry position, you need to be very careful. There are a lot of job scams advertising what appear to be legitimate positions. Work-from-home job scams are perhaps the most common online scam.

For the five years ending December 21, 2019, AARP reports there were over 100,000 fraud complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission by job seekers. These include 58,368 complaints about opportunities to work from home or start a business.

Work-from-home data entry jobs are particularly appealing to scammers, who find many ways to make them seem real.

That's because many data entry jobs are entry-level and don't require experience to get started. It's easy to promote the positions as an easy way to get started working online and make money.

When you hear about a work-from-home job in data entry that sounds too good to be true (for example, the position might promise high pay for very few hours of work), it probably is.

Read about some of the most common data entry job scams, and learn some tips for avoiding them.

Types of Data Entry Scams

Scams That Ask for Money

There are several kinds of data entry scams. One type of scam is the one that will ask you for money:

  • You might be told that if you pay a fee, you will receive a job.
  • Some scams ask you for money so that you can take a required test, pay for administrative fees, or receive equipment or a kit necessary to start the job.
  • Others ask you to pay for a training course or certificate program.
  • Some will ask for money in exchange for more information on data entry jobs.

Once you pay the scammer money, you will likely not hear from the scammer again. Or, you will simply receive information that you could have received for free.

Scams That Offer Money

Another common type of scam involves giving you money—or at least, appearing to give you money. The scammer will send you a check. You will deposit the check and then, a day or two later, the scammer will ask you to send money to someone else (either for work supplies or for some other reason). After you send the money, you realize the check they sent you has bounced. 

Sometimes these fake companies will drag out the process to make you think they are real.

For example, one person who was scammed said the fake company actually put her through a week of "training" before sending her a fraudulent check. Sometimes, these scammers will go as far as to conduct an interview with you, but the interview will not be in person. In some cases, the interview will be held on a messaging platform, so you never get to talk to the person who is hiring.

Scams to Steal Your Identity

Another goal of scammers is to steal your identity. They can do this by offering you the job, then saying they need your drivers' license number or social security number to get you on the payroll. They may also ask for bank account information for direct deposit. Sharing this information with a scammer sets you up to have your identity stolen.

Tips for Spotting Data Entry Scams

Even someone who is aware of scams and is looking for signs of being scammed can be fooled by criminals. Scammers have invested a lot of time in learning how to take advantage of job seekers, and it can be easier than you think to get scammed.

Keep the following tips in mind whenever you are looking for a data entry job:

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Data entry jobs, on average, do not pay particularly well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median hourly wage for a data entry keyer is $16.10 an hour. The median wage for lowest percentile of workers is $11.24 per hour.

Specialized jobs pay a bit more (for example, jobs as a medical coder or legal transcriptionist). If you see a job listing that promises an extremely high salary, a very flexible schedule, or both, be suspicious.

Research any company. Before sending an employer any personal information, research the company. Make sure they have a legitimate website. Ask the employer if you can speak to any of their employees or former employees in person. Keep researching until you feel confident that it is a legitimate company.

Search Google using the company name and terms like "review" or "scam" to find complaints about the organization.

Check out the hiring manager. If the recruiter works for a legitimate company, you should be able to find information on them by searching Google and LinkedIn. If you can't find any traces of an employment history or a current employer, be very careful before you proceed.

Never pay money for a job. Many of the scams will ask you for money early on in the process—either to cover the cost of equipment, to pay an administrative fee, or to pay for a test. You should not have to pay money to get a legitimate job. If anyone asks for money, that is a sign that it is a scam.

Be wary of paid training programs. There are some legitimate certificate programs or other training programs for specialized careers in data entry, like legal transcription and medical coding. However, many scams promise you training that you either never end up receiving, or training that is unnecessary. Do thorough research into any training program. Ask to speak in person with people who have completed the program.

Ask for a signed contract. If you are offered a job, ask for a signed, legal employment contract before beginning work. This will help you ensure that you are legally hired by a legitimate company. 

Trust your gut. Remember to trust your instincts. If something seems "off" about a position, do more research before responding or reaching out.

What to Do if You've Been Scammed

If you believe you have been scammed, report it so that others can avoid the same scam. There are a number of ways you can file a complaint, including providing information to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau. You can also report fraudulent websites to Google.

How to Find Real Data Entry Jobs

There are ways to find real data entry jobs, as well as real work-from-home jobs more generally. First of all, reach out to your connections, including your friends, your family, and

your contacts through work. They might know of a company that is looking for someone to help with data entry, or perform some other kind of freelance job. Also try to focus on particular companiesthat you know are legitimate and hire for data entry positions. This will help you avoid those fake companies that try to scam people.

There are also job boards and job search engines that specialize in work-at-home job listings. Of course, you will still need to be on the lookout for scams on these websites. However, these sites also have many legitimate jobs.

The Bottom Line

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a company is offering you a lot of money for a little work, it most likely is a scam.

Carefully research the company. Check out the company and the recruiter online. If job seekers have reported scams, you may be able to find them.

Be very careful with your personal information. Don't share any personal information until you are sure the organization is legitimate, and the job offer is real.

Article Sources

  1. AARP. "Watch Out for Scammers When Job Hunting." Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  2. Federal Trade Commission. "Work-at-Home Scams." Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Data Entry Keyers." Accessed Aug. 18, 2020.