Beware of Job Scams

It’s an amazing employment opportunity – or is it? Scammers often hijack the job market and ensnare hopeful job seekers into their schemes. If you’re job-hunting, it’s a good idea to review how these scams play out and how to avoid them. To help you out, we’ve created a guide on what you need to know to stay safe from job scams.

How the scams play out

There are several variations of job scams. Here are the most common ones: 

Bogus job listing

There’s a Help Wanted ad for a dream job, and the job-seeker applies with great optimism. They’ll share their information and even pay a small fee to submit their resume, or to cover alleged job supplies. Sadly for them, the job doesn’t actually exist and they’ll never hear from the “employer” again.

Imposter hiring

An alleged rep from a well-known agency, government institution or hiring firm reaches out to a target asking them to send the funds to cover a screening fee to be considered for a job. While the job does exist, the representative is a scammer. The money the victim has shared will go directly into the scammer’s pocket.

Phishing emails

Like any phishing scam, a victim is targeted directly via email. The email will offer the victim a fantastic job, but first ask that they share confidential information. If the victim complies, they’ll be giving their personal information to a scammer.

Inflated payment scam

In this ruse, a target will be hired for a remote position. When payday arrives, the victim will receive a check written for an amount that is for more than the “new employee” should have received. The employer will ask them to cash the check and mail back the extra funds. Unfortunately, a few days later, when the check doesn’t clear, the victim realizes they’ve been scammed.

How to spot a job scam

Learning to identify the signs of a job scam can help you avoid them and find gainful employment. Here are some red flags to watch out for while job-hunting: 

Unprofessional emails

If the emails you receive from a would-be employer or HR rep are riddled with red flags, such as:

  • Spelling Mistakes
  • Typos
  • Formatted in an unprofessional manner

In cases such as this, you may be dealing with a scammer.

No physical company mailing address

Even a business that mostly hires remote employees needs a street address. Here are some potential red flags:

  • If you can’t seem to find one on the company’s site
  • Your “employer” refuses to share this basic location information with you

In these cases, the company may be a cover for a scam ring.

Upfront fee

Most legitimate employers will not ask a new hire or hopeful employee to pay a fee for supplies or to submit a resume. If you’re asked to do so, you may be looking at a scam.

Inflated checks

Here is how this scam works:

  • A check from a new employer that is made out for more than your wages or salary.
  • The “employer” ask for the surplus to be returned.

Don’t cash the check and terminate all contact with the “employer”.

Premature request for information

It’s perfectly okay for an employer to ask a new employee to share personal information such as:

    • Social Security number
    • Date of birth
    • Checking account information,

These details should not be shared until an official contract is signed and the employee is sure the job and the employer are legit. In fact, it may be a good idea to hold off on signing up for direct deposit of your paycheck until you’ve been employed for a while and you know the job is a keeper.

You’ll be underworked and overpaid

If a job is promising a high salary for very little and/or very easy and unskilled work, it’s likely a scam.

Before applying to or accepting a job offer, do thorough research. Ask for references of past or current employees and check out the company website to see if it’s secure and has real information about the firm, including a street address. Check out the company’s social media pages, like LinkedIn, as well. Finally,  ask the employer, or the person doing the hiring, any questions you may have about the company or the job.

Job-hunting can be stressful, so don’t let a scam make the experience more difficult. Stay alert and stay safe by following the tips outlined here.

Your Turn:

Have you been targeted by a job scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

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