At a time when unemployment is at its highest, so too are scams attempting to take advantage of people’s desperation to find stable and secure work and earn a steady and reliable income.
What Are Job Scams?
Job scams are attempts to get you to give over your vital personal information for the promise of employment.
Types of Job Scams?
Job scams come in many different forms, incorporating many aspects and tactics of other common scams, such as phishing emails and robocalls.
Job Offer Email
You may receive an email claiming you are the idea candidate for a new opportunity with an employer, job board or recruiter who found your resume posted on LinkedIn, Indeed, the company website or some other source.
These scammers are banking on the fact that you’ve put yourself out there to so many places that you won’t necessarily remember whether you’ve previously contacted their company or posted a resume where they say you have.
Most job-seekers are reluctant to look a gift horse in the mouth and will assume the offer is a legitimate response to an action they took with the specific hope and intention of receiving just such an offer.
Fake Social Media Job Advertisements
Scammers may post advertisements on social media for fake jobs in an effort to get people to contact them and provide personal data before they can access more information about the job.
Keep in mind that fake job postings may appear on legitimate social media pages, profiles and accounts, so do not assume that, just because an account, profile or page is legitimate, all the content associated with it is as well.
Be cautious of short-links too, like bit.ly, frequently used on Twitter by both legitimate users and scammers alike.
As for identifying altogether illegitimate accounts, profiles and pages, note the number of followers.
If an employer has any less than 500 followers, that’s cause for suspicion.
Sometimes, a scammer will impersonate a legitimate employer to gain the trust of targets and market on their blind enthusiasm for the prospect of being a part of a well-known company.
In these instances, the employer’s name is legitimate even though the job posting is not.
Note: the contact email address or exact URL used in the ad and the recruiter’s name and position.
Then, you can cross-check that data against Google or Bing to find out if it’s factual. You can also browse directly to the “Careers” page of the alleged employer’s official website to see if the job is posted there as well.
In a variation of this scam, scammers will post fake jobs on legitimate job boards, again attempting to capitalize on the implicit trust and authority visitors place in those resources.
Bogus to the Core
Some job postings and offers of employment are fake from top to bottom, from the employer to the recruiter to the website or job board to the job itself.
To avoid falling into these insidious snares, avoid any opportunity that requires you to “register” by providing personal information for a “prescreening” process.
Red Flags to Look Out For
Fortunately, there are many ways to identify job scams and avoid becoming ensnared by them, if you know what to look for.
For starters, the same advice your mother probably gave you holds true here:
Any offer that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
Some signs of a “too-good-to-be-true” scenario include a job offer you receive right away after just a few minutes on the phone or an offer of incredible pay.
With that as your foundation, here are some of the other more glaring red flags of a likely job scam:
- They reached out to you – Normally, the would-be employee is the one who makes first contact. If the reverse occurs, you have to wonder how they learned of you, your qualifications and availability, and why they would make the effort to recruit you directly rather than place a job posting on LinkedIn or advertise on Indeed like every other company hiring new workers.
- Unprofessional or error-filled emails – A typical recruitment email or offer of employment is an official-looking document with the company’s letterhead featured at the top, a clear and unconfusing return email address, a body written in professional (not casual or colloquial) language and fluent, grammatically-correct English free of typos and errors and containing a footer at the bottom with all the pertinent privacy and security information. If an email (or postal letter, for that matter) is lacking in any of these elements, be suspicious. Additionally, any email from an employer should come from that employer’s official domain (such as 121FCU.org) not yahoo.com or gmail.com.
- You have to pay to get the job – If you must pay for materials, training, certification or to reimburse placement expenses for the promise of job, consider that an empty promise.
- You have to provide credit card or bank account information to get the job – Never give anyone your financial information unless you contacted them in order purchase something.
- You are promised access to federal government job openings that are “previously undisclosed” – All federal job postings are free.
How to Protect Your Information
By looking out for the red flags listed above and diligently avoiding them when they show up, you can do a lot to protect yourself from job scams.
As mentioned in some of the specific job scam examples, you can further protect yourself by avoiding any opportunity that requires registration or requests personal information for a prescreening and keeping a record of every place you post a resume or submit an application.
Above all, any time you encounter a job opportunity, whether you sought it out online or someone contacted you by email or phone, conduct your own separate research on the source of the opportunity before you pursue it.
Summary and Resources
To report a job scam someone perpetrated or attempted to perpetrate against you, contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint.
For more information on other scams and how to protect yourself, visit our learning center page.