It’s an amazing employment opportunity – or is it? Scammers often hijack the job market to take advantage of job seekers. Here’s what to know about these scams.
How the scams play out
There are several variations of job scams. Here are the most common:
- Bogus job listing. There’s a Help Wanted ad for a dream job. The eager job-seeker applies, sharing their information, and even paying a small fee, for an interview or resume submission. Unfortunately, the job doesn’t exist, and they’ll never hear from the “employer” again.
- Imposter hiring. An alleged rep from a well-known hiring agency reaches out, asking for funds to cover a job screening. While the job may exist, the “representative” is a scammer, and the money will go directly into their pocket.
- Phishing emails. In this scam, a victim is targeted by email. It offers the victim a fantastic job but asks that they first share confidential information. If the victim complies, they’ll be giving their personal information to a scammer.
How to spot a job scam
Learning to identify the signs of a job scam can help you avoid them. Here are some red flags to watch for when job-hunting:
- The emails the “company” sends are highly unprofessional with typos.
- There’s no physical mailing address for the company. Even a business that mostly hires remote employees needs a mailing address.
- You’re asked to pay an upfront fee before you’re even hired.
- You’re asked to share personal information before an official contract is signed.
- When “hired,” you’re underworked and overpaid.
How to Avoid a Job Scam
Keep these tips from the Federal Trade Commission in mind during your job search to protect yourself from scams.
- Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You might find out they’ve scammed other people.
- Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think? This also helps give you vital time to think about the offer.
- Don't pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
- Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate employer will send a check then tell you to send some on or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam. The check will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the amount of the fake check.
Job-hunting can be stressful but getting caught in a job scam can bring that stress to a whole new level. Stay alert and stay safe by following the tips outlined here.