There are as many scams as real job openings online – sometimes it seems like more. How can you tell the difference between online job scams and legitimate job openings? It can be really difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what’s a scam. Scammers are getting more sophisticated and coming up with new ways to take advantage of job seekers all the time.
Before you apply for a job online, especially work at home jobs, review typical job scams and scam warning signs to help you determine if a job is a scam. If you’re not sure, take the time to research the company to make sure the job is legitimate.
Searching for a job is stressful and demanding, and it can seem like a blessing when you finally see an advert for a job you can do with great pay. But you need to be careful, as job scams are on the rise.
Scammers post fake job adverts and take advantage of their victim’s desire for employment. Learn about how these scams work so you won’t fall victim to them.
How does a Job Scam Work?
Job scams typically start with a scammer placing an advert on a job board website. Often this is on a site with minimal oversight which is free to post on like Craigslist but sometimes it can happen on job sites like Indeed or Monster as well.
These ads can look just like legitimate job adverts, often stating that they are looking for someone to fill a personal assistant or administrative assistant role. Sometimes it may be for a data entry job. Usually it will be advertised as work from home or remote work.
One thing almost all employment scams have in common is that the adverts offer high rates of pay for easy work and short, flexible hours. Usually minimal experience is required.
If you reply to such an advert then the scammer may attempt to steal your identity, to extort money from you, or to get you to inadvertently commit money laundering.
Types of Online Job Scams
There are many online job scams that take advantage of job seekers in a variety of ways. Scammers have several purposes, depending on the scam -to collect confidential information to use for identity theft, to get you to cash fraudulent checks or to wire or send money, and to get you to pay for services or supplies.
Job scams are posted on Craigslist and other job boards and forums, as well as on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. In other cases, you may receive unsolicited email from scammers. It’s important to be vigilant and check out every job you’re interested in to make sure it’s legitimate.
Examples of Fake Job Scams
It is important to be able to differentiate legitimate job opportunities from fake ones. Fake job scam examples can be seen as the following. Here check them and take care of yourself. It could result in you being scammed if you’ve decided to pursue them. It can happen.
Credit Report Scam
Here’s an email sent to a Craigslist applicant. The company would like to take this moment to thank you for your response to our Craigslist job posting, as well as inform you that, after reading through your resume, we are interested in discussing this job opportunity with you in person. To proceed to the next step of the hiring process, you will need to get your credit score checked. The applicant is directed to a website where they will input personal information including name, address, Social Security number, etc.
Fake Job Application Scam
This email asks to complete a job application online. The link takes you to a website where you are to fill out all info needed to steal your identity. The email says something like: “We look forward to reviewing your application and bringing you in for an interview. But can not do so until you complete our company application.”
Pay for Background Check Scam
With this scam, a job seeker is told a position has just opened up, and a phone interview or an instant message interview is conducted. The applicant is notified that they would be responsible for the cost of the background check. Then the applicant is told that they have to purchase pre-paid $75 Visa debit card and send it to the interviewer to pay for the background check.
Pay for Startup Kit Scams
These are also called work at home assembly job scams. Companies may offer to sell you a kit you can use to assemble products to sell. You’ll most likely end up paying for a kit, and you won’t make any money.
Pay for Software/Programs Scam
The company asks applicants to set up a Yahoo Messenger account for the job briefing and interview. The company then explains that the applicant will need to buy programs in advance and say they will reimburse the candidate.
This job description isn’t what it seems. Start entry-level, develop transferable skills, work with the world’s leading corporations, advance to new positions, make money, and along the way, figure out what you want to be when you grow up. It sounds good, but the job is door-to-door sales.
Pay for Training Materials Scam
The company asks candidates to complete interview tasks such as testing on accounting questions. Then they will tell you that they are going to set you up with software. So you can work at home. Instead of a package, they send a cashier’s check. They ask the applicant to deposit the check into their bank, then withdraw funds, and then send those funds via Western Union to get the “training” materials.
Pay for Online Training Scam
In this scam, the job seeker receives an email from a person about a job they applied for that was filled. They had another job that the person was qualified for. But they had to pay to do some online training. This scam used the name of a legitimate company and an email address similar to the real company name.
Direct Deposit before Interview Scam
The applicant is offered the job via email. And it told that all employees are paid via Direct Deposit with the company’s banking institution with no additional cost for you. The applicant is sent to a website to sign up and told: “After registering your Direct Deposit confirmation, please respond back to this email with your ideal interview date/time. Remember, you need your Direct Deposit account info before your interview, as we will be processing your payment information at that time.”
Trial Employment Scam
The applicant is told that they were selected as one of two people to go through a three-week trial period. The name of the company and the website seem legitimate. But they ask you to fill out a contract with personal information including your Social Security number.
Top Internet Job Scams Warning Signs
1. Too Good to be True
Good jobs are hard to find. Like your mom always said, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some tip-offs that the ‘job’ is fake.
- You didn’t contact them; they contacted you: They say that they found your resume online. They either offer you a job right away or say they want to interview you. Sometimes the scammers will try to entice you by saying that you made the cut and they are interviewing the finalists for the job.
- The pay is great
- You get the job right away. After a quick phone or Instant Message interview, the ‘interviewer’ immediately contacts you to offer you the job.
Tip: Scammers troll job boards looking for victims. To reduce the chance, you’ll get scammed, use job sites that have privacy policies and only allow verified employers to view the listings.
2. Vague Job Requirements and Job Description
Scammers try to make their emails sound believable by listing job requirements. Usually, these requirements are so ridiculously simple that almost everyone qualifies: Must be 18 years old, Must be a citizen, Must have access to the internet. (You wouldn’t be reading their email if you didn’t have internet access, right?) The job requirements don’t mention years of education or experience. As a rule of thumb, if it’s a real job, the requirements will be quite specific.
Job scam emails usually don’t include clear job descriptions, either. Many job seekers say that when they ask for a job description or list of job duties, they get the brush-off. The interviewer either ignores the questions or says something like “Don’t worry, we’ll train you.”
3. Unprofessional Emails
Some Emails from scammers are well-written, but many aren’t. Real companies hire professionals who can write well. If the Email contains spelling, capitalization, punctuation or grammatical mistakes, be on your guard. They are considered as phishing Emails.
4. Online Interviews via Messaging Services
Many attempted scams say that the interview will take place online using an instant messaging service. The scammers often include instructions for setting up and contacting the hiring manager and may ask for confidential information.
Tip: If you’re applying for an online job and you’re told that the interview will take place online via instant message, research the company and its representatives before you agree to an interview. And if you agree to be interviewed, ask detailed questions about the job during the interview. Don’t give out confidential information such as your bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers. Don’t be fooled just because the interview questions sound real.
5. Emails Don’t Include Contact Information
If the email doesn’t include the company’s address and phone, it’s a good bet that it’s a scam. And it’s a good bet that it’s a scam if the interviewer makes an excuse for using a personal email address. He/she may say the company’s servers are down, or the company is experiencing too many problems with spam, or the company hasn’t yet set up its email system.
Some scam emails will look like they come from real companies.
Tip: Look at the email address carefully, then copy/paste it into the search box. You can also type in the word “scam” after the email address to see if someone else has reported the company.
6. Search Results Don’t Add Up
Before agreeing to an interview, do your research. If it’s a real company, you should be able to find information about the company by doing an online search. Finding information does not guarantee that the company is legit. But if you can’t find anything, you can bet it’s a scam.
Tip: Sophisticated scammers sometimes set up nice-looking websites. But looks can be deceiving. Try this: go to the Domain White Pages and type the company’s web address into the “domain or IP address” box and click the “go” button. The results will tell you the date when the website was created. If the website is less than a year old, be on your guard.
When searching for information about the company, search for both the company’s name and the email address. Also, copy/paste paragraphs from the email into the search box. Scammers may change the company name but re-use the other parts of the email. And it’s possible you’ll find an identical email posted online.
7. They Ask You to Provide Confidential Information
Some scammers ask for your bank account information to set up direct deposit or transfer money to your account. Or ask you to open a new bank account and provide the information to them.
Other scammers will tell you to go to a website and fill out a credit report form or provide confidential information. So they can put you on the company insurance. Identity theft scams try to get you to provide your Social Security number and birth date and other personal information.
Tip: Before entering personal information online, check to make sure the website is secure by looking at the web address bar. The address should be https:// not http://
8. Using Your Personal Bank Account
Some scammers ask to use your personal bank account to transfer money from one account to another account. It is money laundering, and it’s against the law. Other scams ask you to receive and forward packages from your home. These packages might contain stolen goods or illegal substances.
9. They Want You to Pay for Something
Legitimate companies don’t ask for money. If they told you that you need to purchase software or pay for services, beware. They may ask you to:
- Buy an especial software
- Pay for a credit report
- Pay to have your resume reviewed
10. Your “Gut” Says It’s a Scam
Researching the company is your best defense, but some scammers are very clever. If you start to feel that things aren’t right, trust your intuition. Ask questions and pay close attention to the answers.
Slow the process down and don’t be pressured into making a commitment or giving out personal information. Do more research. If it turns out to be a scam, report it to the authorities.
Keep Yourself Safe From Job Scams
Now that you know how job scams work and the tricks that scammers use to deceive people, you can stay safe. Be sure to check into a job thoroughly before you send any personal information. Be suspicious of job adverts which offer great pay for minimal work with no experience required. Remember that you should never pay money for training before you begin a job.