If you wonder where all the work from home, and business opportunities from the backpages of your favorite magazines went, just point your search engine of choice at the term, side hustle. You’ll find them all there. And they brought friends, lots of them.

Back in the 60s and 70s, a hustler was just someone who would do anything and everything to make a little cash on the side. That term has made a comeback. Due to economic realities, there are a lot of smart, talented, and slightly desperate people looking for creative ways to make ends meet.

To serve those needs are hoards of scammers (also hustling) to bilk the desperate out of what little money they have. The vast majority of side-hustles in the work from home, business opportunity categories are scams designed to make other people rich, and you poor. Finding the legitimate opportunities can be a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Apply the following principles to weed out the cruft:


Check out Lots of Reviews

If you are into surveys, you may be wondering about the potential Opinion Outpost scam. How do you know if it is legitimate? First, don’t be fooled by professional reviews. One of the best tactics scammers use to gain legitimacy is to write a professional review via a third-party that questions whether the company is a scam. Then, surprise surprise, it turns out to be legitimate.

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What you want are real reviews from actual people who do surveys for the company. This is one of those areas where you can’t trust the professional reviews because you don’t know which are legit. Read lots of real-world user feedback.

If the company does what they say they do, does not put you through a lot of hoops, and pays on time, real-world reviews are the only way to find this out. Trust only the professional review sources you know to be legit.

Never Pay for a Job

Online gambling has become a popular side hustle as of late. But it is not something you should mistake as a legitimate way out of a financial bind. Rather than being the way out, gambling is the way in. Many side hustles posing as legitimate offer the same risk as gambling: They require you to ante up before playing.

Real job opportunities do not require you to pay for things before they hire you. If a company is asking you to pay for something up front, it is not a job. You’re the job. And they are working you. So do not put that money order in the envelope. Do not process that bitcoin. The real opportunities are a few more searches away.

Beware of Glorified Descriptions

In the case of surveys, you are answering questions and getting paid a dollar or two for your time, if you’re lucky. That’s what it is. That’s all it is. You are not in the consumer opinion business, or the marketing department of a brand-studies corporation.

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If they make simple work sound too grandiose, they are probably deceiving you about other things as well. Deal with companies that appeal to your intellect, not your ego.

Too Much Money Is a Red Flag

So you really think you are going to get paid an extra 500 a week for merely stuffing envelopes? Think again. There is no such job. One of the best secret shopper scams I’ve seen is where a company sends you a $2,000 check from the Belgrade State Bank.

They want you to shop a McDonalds, and a couple of wire transfer companies. You get to keep $250 if you wire the rest to an address they specify. That particular setup will live you $2,000 poorer. The Federal Trade Commission outlines this particular scam in detail.

Like your mother always told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check out lots of reviews from real people. Never pay for a job. Beware of glorified descriptions of simple jobs. And be very suspicious when being offered too much money for too little work.