It's a fantastic employment opportunity – or is it? Unfortunately, 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 the way these scams play out and how you can avoid them. To help you out, we've put together a short primer on what you need to know to stay safe from job scams.
How the scams play out
There are several variations of job scams. But, 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. The job seeker shares their information and pays a small fee to submit their resume or cover alleged job supplies. But, sadly, the job doesn't exist for them, 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, and 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 they are asked to 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 is hired for a remote position. When payday arrives, the victim will receive a check written for an amount that is more than the "new employee" should have received. The employer will ask them to cash the check and mail back the extra funds. Unfortunately, when the check doesn't clear a few days later, 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. Here are some red flags to watch for when job-hunting:
- The emails the “company” sends are highly unprofessional.
- There’s no street address for the company.
- You're asked to pay an upfront fee before you're hired.
- You’re asked to share personal information before an official contract is signed.
- When “hired,” you’re underworked and overpaid.
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 is secure and has accurate information about the firm, including a street address. In addition, check out the company's social media pages, like LinkedIn. Finally, don't be afraid to ask the employer, or the person doing the hiring, any questions you may have about the company or the job.