It took me a year to convince my husband that it would be best if I just work at home. This way I can look after our daughter who was only one year old then and at the same time save money from paying a maid or a nanny. He was skeptical about this new way of earning money. Since online scams are rampant on the internet. He was scared I was not going to be paid or my credit card will be compromised by identity thieves, etc.
When he finally said yes, I did everything possible to prove to him that I can really earn money and I can avoid online scams.
I researched thoroughly about which companies and job databases I should trust. I relied on other's reviews and testimonials. One of these companies that earned my trust was Odesk.com. Aside from my online researches, I also asked my friends and former colleagues who tried and working via Odesk.com. At least three references from people you know can help you decide.
Also, I was very cautious about job opportunities who asked for payment prior to the job (such as money for "job" instructions, to test your printer, to see if you are qualified or for an application). I was also careful not to give my credit card information when I started purchasing products online for my online business. Instead, I used PayPal. This is very beneficial because PayPal can help you get the money back should you wish for a refund or you are doubtful about your purchase.
Finally, if you are going to work for a project on a fixed rate, it is safer to ask a payment upfront. You can ask for 50% upfront fee until the job is completed. Otherwise, there are also plenty of jobs that can pay you on an hourly basis. Perhaps you are a whiz designer, or a trained Virtual Assistant, you can ask your employer to pay you on an hourly rate and just send him an invoice. With my experience, Odesk.com has a screen shot and work diary so that the employer can determine if I am doing my job correctly and finishing the project on time.
Don’t feel desperate to try everything just to get a job. This is when scams will try to capitalize out from your desperation. Avoiding work at home scams can be easy if you know exactly what you want. Always follow your own judgment.