Virtual Assistant Scams: Here’s What to Watch Out For

virtual assistant scams

Virtual assistants can be life savers when it comes to running your business. They can perform the tasks you don’t have enough hours in the day for, and they can even work odd hours, if you need them to. Virtual assistants, or VAs, can provide tremendous value to businesses at any level. There are lots of independent virtual assistants out there, but most often, we hire them through a virtual assistant company.

Before outsourcing your daily duties to the first company you find, it’s important to know that there are a number of virtual assistant scams out there. Most of these scams don’t directly target the companies who hire them but rather the assistants who work for them. Still, hiring a company engaging in virtual assistant scams can bring unwanted problems for you and your team. Understanding what scams are out there and how they work is a key part of finding a reputable company to handle your needs.

What are Virtual Assistant Scams?

Just like workers in any paid position, happy virtual assistants are productive ones. If your VA is unhappy, their work lacks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that take advantage of work from home assistants, and hiring one can land you in an unfortunate situation.

If the company hires anyone who applies, whether they have skills or not, your assistant could be essentially worthless. If they withhold pay or create unreasonable work environments, your assistant could be a disgruntled time bomb. Ask yourself, what is it like being a virtual assistant working for this company? You may have to do a little detective work to find out. 

Try searching for any job listings the company may be offering. Job listings are a great place to see where their priorities lie and will give you a rare glimpse into how they attract their talent. Let’s look at some red flags that will tip you off to the companies running personal assistant scams.

The Listing Seems Too Good to be True

Just like anything in life, if something seems far too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. When companies offer huge sums of money for minimal work or quick advancement in a stay at home contractor job, it’s a good indicator that they may be running personal assistant job scams.

They Hire Anybody

Some VA companies will hire anyone who applies, whether they are qualified or not. That’s not going to be great for your company. When we hire virtual assistants, we want them to be knowledgeable about the industry and their duties. Reputable companies can get away with this to some extent with proper training. If the listing says things like “start today” or “no experience necessary,” you may want to rethink using them to provide your VA services.

They Don’t Train Their Virtual Assistants

People are much better equipped to handle the duties of their position if they are well-trained. Some companies throw their VAs directly into jobs without offering any training. That should be a red flag. Untrained VAs may have trouble understanding everything from the industry in which they are working to the expectations placed upon them.

They Require Expensive Training

On the other end of the spectrum, some companies expect their VAs to pay for expensive training before starting work. Not many companies expect their employees to finance their own training up front, nor should they. Independent contractors may be expected to have the right tools for the job, but no one performing work should be expected to come out of pocket before the job even begins.

Many people see these jobs as virtual assistant pyramid schemes, and with good reason. Paying for a job is a very unusual practice, and anyone who requires it should raise eyebrows. If you see any of these potential scams in a job posting, it’s best to expand your search into other companies.

With all the virtual assistant scams out there, you may ask yourself, are virtual assistant jobs legitimate at all? Rest assured, there are great companies out there. You’ve just got to know where and how to look. Here’s how to tell if the company you’re looking at is worthwhile.

How do I Know if an Online Company is Legitimate?

If you want to avoid virtual assistant scams and land yourself a quality company, it takes a little leg work. Grabbing the first listing, you find on Craigslist isn’t going to cut it. Looking beyond the surface level will tell you what you need to know before engaging with any company.

Check the Better Business Bureau Website

While a BBB accreditation isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to identifying a legitimate company, it is a helpful tool. Whether or not a company is accredited, unhappy clients do still post their experiences on the site. You can learn a lot about how many complaints they’ve fielded, as well as how the company handles those complaints through a simple search.

If they are accredited, you can likely feel confident knowing they aren’t running any virtual assistant scams. Companies who pursue accreditation are typically trying to run a legitimate business and are concerned with the way they are presented to potential clients.

Check Virtual Assistant Reviews

The first place most of us go when researching purchases or service providers is a review page. We want to see that people are using said service or product, as well as how they felt about the experience. These reviews can give great insight into how a company operates. You’ll know if they meet deadlines. You’ll also know a bit about their quality control. But what about the employee experience?

Checking reviews on employee sites like Glassdoor will let you know how current and past employees feel about the company and its leadership. You’ll know what employee morale and retention rates look like. These are important aspects of the business and will let you know whether or not they’re engaging in any virtual assistant job scams.

Comb Through Their Website

Nearly all companies have websites these days, and those sites can tell us a whole lot about the company and how it operates. Does their “About Us” page provide real information or simply contain a contact form? How about a mission statement? Also, do they have a legitimate business address, or does Google Street View point you to a post office box? If you call their phone number, do you connect with a real person or a mailbox? Answering these simple questions will give you invaluable information as to whether they’re running reputable companies, or possibly operating virtual assistant scams.

If their website contains limited information, they may either be trying to hide something, or they may have unqualified people designing and building their site. Are either of those really something you want out of your virtual assistant company?

Get Everything in Writing

If you feel good about a VA company on paper and decide to meet with them in person, make sure they are willing to obligate themselves to any and all deliverables with a virtual assistant contract in writing. If they prefer to operate on a smile and a handshake, that should raise questions.

If you don’t know how to setup contracts for a virtual assistant, it’s even more important that you go with a reputable company. Any VA company worth its salt will provide clear and concise contracts that include deliverables and timelines. If they don’t provide that for you, it should be another red flag.

Go with Your Gut

At the end of the day, our impulses are often our best line of defense against getting scammed. If anything feels off about the people you’re dealing with, or if the offer seems far too good to be true, walk away. Virtual assistant scams can cause big headaches and even cost you time and money. Don’t work with any company you don’t feel completely comfortable with.

Protect Yourself

Whether you’re looking to work as a virtual assistant or you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant, make sure you’re choosing to work with a reputable company. Are personal assistant jobs legit? Most are but beware of the virtual assistant scams out there. Can you grow your business with the help of a virtual assistant? Of course you can. You just need to work with a company that values its employees as much as you value the help.

If you’re looking to hire a VA firm to provide your virtual assistant services, make sure you choose a reputable company. Virtual assistant scams are plentiful, and failing to check the ethics of the company could land you an unhappy VA that doesn’t live up to expectations.

If you’d like to see an example of how a reputable company operates, take a look at our “How it Works” page. We’d love to show you how working with a great VA can positively impact your business.

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