Looking to earn extra bucks with a side hustle? So are plenty of scammers posting fake jobs.

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Like many Americans trying to keep up with rising inflation, you may be thinking about taking on a side hustle for extra cash. There’s no shortage of side hustle opportunities, from pet sitting, ride-sharing and delivery gigs to seemingly lucrative opportunities posted on Craigslist, social media and other online marketplaces.

In your eagerness to get started bringing in additional income, it might be tempting to sign up for the first lucrative side hustle gig you come across. But don’t be too quick to sign up for just any side hustle.

Many posted side hustle jobs “aren’t what they seem,” according to a recent consumer alert issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Scammers hiding behind fake side hustle ads have a variety of nefarious motives, including identity theft, shipping schemes and fake check scams.

“Whatever their ploy, scammers hope to get their hands on your money, personal information, or both,” warns the BBB. But you don’t have to become a side-hustle-scammer’s next victim.

Here are the BBB’s tips on how to avoid side hustle scams.

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Screen the job poster

No matter how much you need extra money, ask plenty of questions before agreeing to a side hustle gig. The BBB recommends checking out the job poster’s social media sites such as LinkedIn and pushing for a video chat meetup before taking the job to weed out scammers.

“Most scammers will avoid meeting you and won’t answer specific questions,” says the BBB.

Find out: How to Spot Fake Job Listings Posted by Cybercriminals

Limit work and payment to freelance job sites

If you have a profile advertising your skills on Upwork or another freelance site, side hustle scammers may approach you as legitimate employers. Then the side hustle con artist switches things up, asking you to accept payment through a different means than the platform used by the freelance site.

Maybe they’ll ask you to accept payment through PayPal or another payment app. But that’s just a way to stiff you on payment after you do the work without the reputable freelance site finding out and banning them for nonpayment.

“Chances are, once you turn in your work, you won’t receive any payment and your client will disappear for good,” says the BBB.

Find out: 11 Easy Ways to Spot a Get-Out-of-Debt Scam

Don’t be fooled by “too-good-to-be-true” jobs

When you see an ad for a supposedly high-paying job for easy work that requires no skills, run from it as fast as you can. The “job” is likely a scam.

A great example of a too-good-to-be-true side hustle is the car wrap scam, where a company promises to pay you for wrapping your car in a banner with its company logo. Then the scammer sends you a cashier’s check to deposit in your bank account so you can use the funds to pay a vendor through Venmo or another platform to “come out and wrap your car.”

Too bad the check is fake. And by the time your bank realizes the check you deposited in your account is no good, the “employer” is nowhere to be found, along with your money.

Find out: 7 Red Flags a Paid Survey May Be a Scam

Search online for reviews and scam warnings

Before you sign up for a side hustle, type the company name, along with “scam,” “reviews” and “rip-off” into your favorite search engine.

If the company has a reputation for duping people trying to earn extra bucks with a side hustle, you’ll probably see in search results plenty of angry reviews or scam warnings from others who didn’t take steps to research the company first.

Find out: Don’t Get Burned by These 3 Hot Scams of 2022

Watch out for work-from-home imposters

Scammers may try to impersonate big-name retailers like Amazon and Walmart, posting work-from-home positions on popular job boards, says the BBB. The scammers may even give the posted job an official-sounding name like “warehouse redistribution coordinator,” a fancy name for the actual work: Reshipping stolen packages.

Find out: Don’t Get Sucked Into the Newest Baby Formula Scams

Never pay to get the job

No legitimate employer will ask you to pay or send money before you can come on board to start earning money. If a job poster wants you to wire or send money in the form of gift cards or another form of payment, cut off communication and keep looking for a legitimate side hustle that you enjoy for extra income.

Find out: 7 Signs of a Debt Settlement Scam

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC