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Common Job Scams And How To Avoid Them

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The way it's supposed to work: You search for a job until you find one that you like, you apply, you interview, and you either get hired or you don't. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways job scammers can throw a monkey wrench into this process and end your job-seeking journey before it's begun. Identifying potential job scams will save you time and money and help you get on track to finding your dream job.

Read on to learn about some of the trending job scams and what you can do to avoid them.

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What Are Job Scams?

Generally speaking, job scams are fraudulent activities or fake work offers that con artists use to trick job seekers into giving up their information or money. If you're unemployed and desperate for work, you are likely to jump at any employment opportunity, especially if they offer excellent pay and benefits.

Scammers are well aware you are in this position and will do everything in their power to use it to their advantage. When you need money badly, you might look past a text interview riddled with misspellings and not realize it's probably a Telegram job interview scam.

Scammers may buy your SSN off the dark web, or use a phishing attack to fool you into giving them your personal information, then commit identity theft and apply for jobs as you. They usually do this because they can't procure a job through legitimate means using their own identity. This could lead to IRS audits or you owing taxes on money you didn't make.

It's best to be aware of the possible job scams and what you can do to avoid them.

Common Types Of Job Scams To Watch Out For

Job scams come in all shapes and sizes. You can be sure that while you read this, some scammer somewhere is coming up with a new scheme to try and take your money when all you want to do is make some. Getting an idea of some of the most common types of job scams will help you identify the telltale signs of a scam. These are some of the tried and true methods that scammers use to take advantage of job seekers.

Fake Job Listings

You might be posting your resume, searching on legitimate job websites and doing all the right things. Suddenly, you find a job that pays well and fits your experience. You might apply for that job and get your hopes up, only to later realize it was an online scam.

Scammers post fake job listings to gain your confidence and prey on your hopes, but really they are just after your personal information and money. Fake job listings can be challenging to spot, but here are a few dead giveaways.

No legitimate job opportunity will ask you for money for any reason. Think of the modeling agency that asks you to fork over $1,000 for headshots only to take the money and stop answering the phone. Legitimate companies are looking to invest in you and will never ask for money upfront.

Don't volunteer any personal information (aside from what is on your resume) or financial details until you have accepted the offer, are face to face with HR and know the job is legit. Another thing you should do is search the company's name online to see if they are associated with any scams or complaints. Does their website look legit or just hastily thrown together? Is there a physical address? Can you verify it?

Work-From-Home Job Scams

Wouldn't you like to make a few grand a month lying in bed with a computer on your chest? How about sitting at your desk in your underwear, a bowl of Cheerios within arm's reach? Sign me up! No way it's one of those job posting scams!

Work-from-home job scams dangle this domestic dream in front of your face. And most people, enveloped by an opportunity to work from their couch, don't see it coming.

These scams can take several different forms. One example to look out for is reshipping scams. In this racket, you'll receive packages to get re-shipped. The products are usually stolen goods or bought with stolen credit cards. The scammer promises you payment after you repackage the hot merchandise and ship it out. Only your check never comes, and suddenly, the company you work for doesn't seem to exist anymore.

A good rule of thumb: If someone says you can make a lot of money in a short time with little work, it's a scam.

Job Recruiter Scams

Job recruiters are often a great resource when searching for employment, but be on the lookout for fake ones. Some scammers will pose as headhunters or even entire staffing agencies just to mess with you (and take your money).

What often happens is a scammer presents you with a lot of great job offers. These might be fake jobs or old listings. Are you interested? Of course you are! The catch is you'll have to pay a fee for the recruiter's services. But as you'd expect, once you transfer the fee, the recruiter disappears and so do all those enticing job prospects.

Again, if someone asks for money upfront to place you in a job, it's a scam.

Fake Job Offer Emails

Fake job offer emails are emails that, well, have fake job offer letters. In them, the scammer says they received your contact information from someone in your community, school or church, and that this person recommended you for a certain position. Maybe you don't have the experience to be a virtual assistant or nanny, but someone you know recommended you. How convenient!

When you apply, you'll get the job. (You might even go through a fake job interview.) Then, the scammer will send you your first check with instructions to immediately send a portion of the funds to another party. The unknown party is the scammer. After you send the money, the check bounces. Then you're stuck paying back the full sum of the fake check.

A legitimate employer will never ask you for money like this.

Unpaid Training Scams

Unpaid training scams occur when you apply for a nice offer, and the scammer alerts you that you'll need additional training or certifications to secure the job. This isn't just training that you can do on your own. You'll have to pay the scammer to send you the "proper" materials. In some instances, you'll actually get some start-up kits or employee manuals to study, but don't fool yourself. There is no job.

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How To Know If A Job Is A Scam

Several common red flags signal fake job offers and scams. If something seems fishy, it probably is. Maybe the communication with your correspondent is full of misspelled words and typos. Not being able to find anything online about the company is a warning sign too.

Here are some other things to look out for:

  • They ask for money
  • They ask for your personal or financial information
  • Emails come from nonprofessional domains
  • All communications take place through chat apps
  • The hiring takes place without so much as a phone call
  • Abnormally high pay
  • Ambiguous job details

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay alert when looking for jobs, and know that people are trying to take advantage of your situation.

Helpful Tips For Avoiding Job Scams

Use these tips to navigate the job market and find proper job opportunities.

Verify The Company's Legitimacy

Determining if a company is legit is one of the first actions you should take to avoid getting scammed. There are a few different ways to do this. You can:

  • Identify the legal business name and address
  • Take a hard look at the company's website
  • Check if the company has a privacy policy
  • Review the company's "About Us" page on its website
  • Search the Secretary of State's website to see if it's legally registered
  • Look for an employer identification number (EIN)

Check For Contact Information And A Physical Address

If you search online for a company and can't find any form of contact information, customer service numbers or a physical address listed, it's most likely a scam. If there's no way to contact the company and ask some questions outside of talking to someone on WhatsApp, things aren't adding up.

If you find a number to call, you can try it and investigate further. Just be sure not to provide any personal information or financial details to the person on the other end.

Research The Recruiter Or Hiring Manager

If you're going through a recruiter who reached out to you, you should try and find some background information on them. Research the agency, and look for online reviews to indicate if they're legit.

Sometimes, scammers will pretend to be an actual company, even going as far as creating a fake website. If you are suspicious of a website, the next step is to look into the company's hiring manager.

Hiring managers are responsible for filling open positions with new employees. To find out more about a company's hiring manager, search online or visit a site like LinkedIn. If the person exists, reach out to them to see if they are indeed the person you've been in contact with.

Be Wary Of Vague Job Descriptions And Excess Promises

Vague or ambiguous job titles and descriptions are often an easy way to spot a scam. The scammer wants a wide variety of people to apply for the position, so the fewer details provided, the wider the scope of applicants. You might see a job for an "Assistant" that doesn't give much indication about which qualities and experience the employer is looking for aside from someone who "works well with others."

Scammers often pair these vague job descriptions with a very high salary and exceptional benefits. Don't be blinded by the fantasy presented to you. Check similar positions to verify if the job and pay are realistic.

Check Company Reviews And Employee Experiences

Take a look at some job review sites to see if there are dealings or experiences that seem legitimate. See what former employees had to say about their time at the company (pro tip: you should do this even if you know the employer is legitimate). Look for older reviews that can clue you into the company's history.

Also, do a quick search for any negative reviews about the company that may involve fraud. If there is a scam, there's a good chance some other unfortunate job seekers got caught in the net and commented about it online.

Don't Share Financial Information

No matter what happens, you should follow this tip to a T. Scammers want nothing more than your credit card or banking information to help you spend your funds. Real job opportunities won't ask you to provide financial information as part of the recruiting process. You shouldn't need to pay for or buy something to get a job. Keep your financial info under wraps. Always.

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How To Report A Job Scammer

If you get scammed, don't feel like you're alone. There are people and agencies that care and are working to stop scammers. If you want to know how to report job scams, you can report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also alert your state's attorney general.

Summary Of Digg's Common Job Scams And How To Avoid Them

Job hunting is already a pain in the neck. You can avoid the newest trending job scams by following the basic tips like not sharing your personal or financial information, investigating the company, searching for past reviews and following your gut.

If you're interested in learning more about what you can do to protect yourself, check out some of our other articles and learn about the best identity theft protection.