From the Work from Home Email Bag – Get Paid to Go Look at Things

By Mike Haaren

April 3, 2012

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I don’t like desk work. I like to be outside meeting people and doing things. Are there any home-based jobs or projects that pay you to be outside the house? – Janice in Los Angeles, Cal.

Dear Janice: Lately we’ve seen several options. For example, at, “Lookers” get paid to do just that – go look at things. It might be a vacation cottage that someone out of state wants to rent, or an expensive item for sale on eBay. According to the site, Lookers get paid $25 and up per completed assignment.

Alternatively, the Hershey Company, along with other companies, has been recruiting part-time merchandisers recently to visit stores and take care of inventory. For more on these and comparable jobs, which typically pay an hourly rate in the $8-$10 range plus mileage, see

Similarly, a company called Coast to Coast Merchandising and Installations periodically hires people to put up small signs at gas stations. According to the company, these assignments pay $14 for a 15-20 minute visit. These jobs are also advertised at, or you can apply at

Finally, you might consider mystery shopping assignments. If you like to go to the movies, for example, Market Force Information has been hiring “theater checkers” recently, paying the cost of the ticket plus a small fee. These jobs might involve recording the trailers before a movie, or counting the seats or the customers in the theater. For Market Force and other hirers, see our Mystery Shopping Jobs page.

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: A lot of online jobs want me to enter my Social Security Number when I apply, but I’m not comfortable giving that out online. I worry about scams. Could I fax or mail my SSN to prospective employers instead? – Margaret in Omaha, Neb.

Dear Margaret: Unfortunately, many companies don’t have an alternate path for receiving SSNs. In fact, companies increasingly use software to sift through job applications and resumes, looking for keywords and phrases, all of it fed by online forms. “Snail-mailing” your application will probably be a waste of time.

However, there are ways to reduce the chances that you’re dealing with a work-at-home scam rather than a legitimate job. Red flags include offers of high pay for little effort, claims that “no experience is necessary,” vague job descriptions, and the biggest flag of all – instructions to deposit a cashier’s check to your account and wire funds.

Other indicators of a scam include prominent displays of the “three Bs” – beaches, bikinis and Benjamins ($100 bills). Also beware offers that instruct you to receive and reship merchandise. These are often fencing operations fueled by stolen credit card accounts, and you may even be subject to criminal charges yourself.

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