Duped, hoodwinked, and bamboozled. You can call it any way you want, but the truth of the matter is there will be virtual assistant scams that can cause you to lose time and money just because of your eagerness to find online work.
But just because these people have chosen to sell their souls to the devil doesn’t mean that you should give up your dream of having financial security by working from home as a virtual assistant.
If street smarts keep you safe out there, virtual smarts can keep you productive and profitable as you work from home.
Click this beginner’s guide to find out everything you need to know about being a virtual assistant.
Popular Virtual Assistant Scams to Watch Out For
There’s nothing wrong with being optimistic in your hunt for the perfect virtual assistant job. Just make sure you stay realistic, and that optimism doesn’t get in the way of you spotting a few red flags here and there.
Here are some of the most common virtual assistant scams that other virtual assistants have fallen prey to.
Pay for work
You work to get paid, and not the other way around. So when you spot an employment opportunity that requires you to pay first before working, start walking away. This might be one of the virtual assistant scams waiting for a victim.
It’s okay to invest in your own career as a virtual assistant. But when I say investment, it means spending money to get a laptop, a reliable internet connection (or two, just to make sure), and a nice sturdy desk.
You can even throw in a few bucks if you’re the type who wants a corkboard, a whiteboard, and a printer to make that workspace look like a real home office.
But don’t be duped by websites or job posts asking you for money.
Legitimate virtual assistant websites and freelance marketplaces know that you’re probably seeking a job because you need money. This is why the burden of the cost usually falls on the employers seeking fitting candidates and not the candidates looking for employment.
More often than not, these pay-for-work schemes will only give you short-term income that isn’t even worth the effort. Even worse, you may end up discovering that there wasn’t really any job opportunity once they’ve taken your money.
The disappearing act
This is another oldie in the list of virtual assistant scams, but definitely not a goodie for you.
Some potential employers may send you a private message on your LinkedIn account (or on any other social media account).
Others may directly send you an email or attempt to send you an invite via Skype.
They’ll pique your interest with a good offer for a job that matches your skills.
Some of them may even pressure you into saying yes right away by saying that there are a number of other applicants interested in the job.
Once you say yes, they will let you dive right into your tasks and ask you to complete an assignment or two. And when it’s time to get paid, the employer will disappear off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.
So you’re not only saying goodbye to the money you were supposed to receive. You’re also saying goodbye to the time and effort you put into completing the job.
If you want to know the Best Ways to Apply for a Homebased Job – click here!
Scammers can really be heartless, especially in the case of virtual assistant scams. Not only will they cheat you out of your time and money, but they will also steal your identity when given a chance.
It’s normal for some virtual assistant services to ask for some form of identification. After all, it’s not just potential employers that can scam you out of your money – some virtual assistants have also run with their employer’s money a few times.
But make sure you don’t give out too much information. Otherwise, you could fall victim to one of the biggest virtual assistant scams in the book.
You may be asked for one government ID or two, and that’s it. Be very suspicious the moment they start asking for more.
Be wary of phishing scams as well. Some identity thieves posing as employers may send you links, saying that this is how you sign up for a third-party system where you can get paid.
The sites usually look legit and may really look like PayPal, Payoneer, or any other popular payment site. But when they ask for more information or have a URL that’s different from the original one, stop typing right away. This might be an effort to get your login details so that they can get any money you have in those accounts and run.
When you think about it, being paid way less than what you should be getting can also be considered a scam.
Some employers will look at your credentials and say that they’re actually looking for someone with more experience or with a wider set of skills, but they want to give you a chance to show them what you can do (making it sound like they’re doing you a huge favor).
Then, once they see that they’ve tickled that bone that makes you want to prove yourself, they drop the bomb that they’ll be paying you way less than you’re expecting.
If you say yes to it, then you’ve allowed yourself to be scammed.
This scam may also come in other forms.
For example, some employers will say that they’ll be paying you a lot less than the industry standard for the probation period but will give you an increase once that’s done.
Whether the probation period lasts for a month or for five months, you’re still being cheated out of the money you deserve to be paid.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Virtual assistant scams may also come in other forms aside from the ones listed above. In fact, some of them are creative enough to mix the cons listed above.
This is why you should be smarter, especially if you’re only starting out.
Here are tips that can help you protect yourself from online scams.
Go through reliable virtual assistant job sites.
There are a number of virtual assistant sites and freelance marketplaces that can protect your rights as a remote worker. So you have to make sure you look for virtual assistant jobs through these channels.
Most of the time, this means creating a profile that would convince potential employers to hire you. Think of this as your online resume. Employers have to take one look at it and be impressed enough to consider hiring you for the job. Learn how to make your online profile so appealing here!
Here are some of the most reliable sites you can check out:
Some best freelancing platforms to hire a virtual assistant are:
Most of these sites have strict screening processes for potential employers in an effort to make sure they are legitimate.
It would also be better if you use a virtual assistant service that ensures you are paid no matter what. eVirtualAssistants, for example, keeps the employer’s money in escrow and takes care of your payout. This means that even if the employer suddenly stops communicating with you, you will still get paid for the work you completed.
How do you get started on trusted virtual assistant sites like these? Here’s a guide that can help you out.
If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. This is one of the first things you should remember as a virtual worker.
Make sure every piece of communication cannot be deleted from whatever communication tool you’re using. It’s also best to have a productivity tool where you are able to track your time and activity so that when the time comes for you to prove the amount of work you’ve done, you have data to show.
Don’t delete files that you worked on for as long as a project remains unpaid.
Should you find yourself in the dilemma of having an unresponsive client or, heaven forbid, a client who denies having any transactions with you, at least you have proof supporting your claims.
Avoid giving out confidential information.
Employers will probably ask for some form of identification. They may also ask for your bank account number (if they plan on paying you directly) or your PayPal or Payoneer details so that they can set up your payments.
But the moment you feel like they’re asking for too much information, consider this a red flag, especially if you’re talking to a client directly and not through trusted virtual assistant sites.
They definitely should not be asking for passwords or anything as sensitive.
Giving out too much confidential information could make you vulnerable to identity theft, a kind of hell that you wouldn’t want to find yourself in.
Go through proper payment channels
Make sure you go through proper payment channels with clearly documented transactions.
Here are some of the most popular channels used:
Some employers may also opt to send you money to your bank directly, while some virtual assistant sites have their own payment processing systems.
As much as possible, avoid going through Western Union or anything similar. Money remittance centers like these usually make money transfers hard to track. If it’s a legitimate company, why would it want to cover its tracks?
Maintain constant communication
Once you start working on a project or a job, always make sure you maintain constant communication with your employer. Email and Skype are fine, but it would be even better if you use other communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
A potential scammer probably won’t put that much effort into setting up an account with a proper communication channel if they plan on disappearing in the end.
To better check the legitimacy of the job, you should also ask about other productivity and collaborative tools you’ll be using to work with your boss and the rest of the team.
Confirm every detail
Even as you start the application process, you have to make sure to confirm every single detail. This is to help you find any loopholes or red flags as early as possible.
Ask about payment channels and how often you’ll be paid.
Ask about task specifics and how your performance will be measured.
You can even ask about benefits you’ll be getting and other extra perks.
The more detailed the information you’re getting, the better. You’ll notice whether the potential employer’s offer is too good to be true. You will also see if the person you’re talking to makes an effort to keep things as vague as possible.
The moment you find something suspicious, start looking for other alternatives. This may not be the opportunity that you’re looking for.
Always know what you deserve.
You deserve to be treated as a professional, and you deserve to be paid right. Make that your mantra.
When you stick to what you deserve, you won’t allow potential scammers to cheat you out of anything.
This is especially true when it comes to money.
As discussed earlier, being a victim of a scam doesn’t just mean not getting paid. It may also mean NOT GETTING PAID RIGHT.
This is why it is important for you to know how much you should be getting for the kind of service that you provide.
So how much should you be getting?
Here’s a peek at the average amount that virtual assistants get paid, depending on what your title is:
|General Virtual Assistants||$500 to $800 a month|
|Content Writers||$500 to $700 a month|
|SEO Specialists||$750 to $950 a month|
|Web Developers||$800 to $1400 a month|
|Graphic Designers||$700 to $1200 a month|
|Mobile App Developers||$800 to $1400 a month|
Of course, it is also possible to get more or less than the price range stated above. These would all depend on a number of different factors.
Factors to consider
What factors affect your pay?
- Experience. The less experience you have, the less you get paid, and vice versa. Especially if your experience falls below what your employer expects, expect to be given much less than the standard offer.
- Skills. The more skills you have that are relevant to the job, the bigger your chances of getting paid more. This is especially true for skills that are not as common. Specialized skills could increase your market value, especially if coupled with certifications and training.
- Job description. Some virtual assistant jobs call for more tasks to be finished. For example, instead of hiring a separate content writer and a separate SEO specialist, you may be hired to play the role of both. In this case, you should be asking for more than the regular rate.
Steps in computing for your rate
Even if you have the chart above as your basis, it is possible to still think twice about whether you should be charging that much (or, from a different perspective, that little).
To decide how much your rate should be, here’s what you should do:
- Compute your overhead expenses. This includes your equipment, internet bill, electricity, etc. Computing for it annually is the usual practice, but you can also go for a monthly look at your total expense. As for your equipment, divide the cost of purchasing it by its expected lifespan.
- Think about your desired profit margin. The average profit margin falls from 10% to 20%, but it’s up to you if you want to make it higher. Just note that going for a ridiculously high-profit margin could affect your capacity to get hired.
- Compute your total working hours. How many hours will you be allotted to work this year?
Now that you have all of this information, it’s time to compute your rate.
Add your expenses and your expected salary (which should fall within the industry standard). Then, multiply the total by your profit margin. Next, divide that by the total number of hours you plan to work this year. This would give you your hourly rate.
So let’s say you’re a general virtual assistant with 7 years of experience and a long list of skills required for a VA to be effective. You computed your total overhead and came up with $10,000 for the year. You also want a 15% profit margin.
You can try to start with a monthly salary of $800 (since you’ve got an impressive background). That’s $9,600 for the year. Add to that your overhead expenses of $10,000, and you have $19,600.
Now, multiply that by your expected profit margin, which is 15%. You’ll get $2,940. Add that to your salary and overhead, giving you $22,540.
Divide this amount by the number of hours you plan on working the entire year.
Let’s say you plan on working for 8 hours for 48 weeks for the entire year. That’s 1,920 hours.
Now, divide $22,540 by 1,920 and you’ll get $11.74. This should be the hourly rate you’ll be aiming for.
If this sounds too high or too low, you can adjust either your profit margin or your expected salary.
Control your desperation
We get it. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
But the last thing you want is for things to get even worse.
This is why no matter how desperate you are for a job, you have to pull yourself together and be smart about every decision.
Even better, you can use your desperation as fuel to make sure that the next job you apply for will be THE job. Use that desperation to push yourself to be highly detail-oriented and to heighten your instincts.
Escaping virtual assistant scams can be easy if you’re going through the right virtual assistant services. eVirtualAssistants could be the best solution for you.
At eVirtualAssistants, you’re 100% protected as a virtual worker. The system has your employer’s money in place, ready to be released when it’s time for you to collect your payment. This way, you don’t have to deal with employers (and potential scammers) directly. eVirtualAssistants deals with them, freeing your mind from the worry of possibly being scammed.
Are you ready to look for virtual assistant jobs without the fear of being scammed?
Click here to start looking for a job with eVirtualAssistants.