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How to Avoid Job Scams: A Comprehensive Guide

Job scams are sadly part of the job search in the modern world. Learn how to spot and avoid them.
How to Avoid Job Scams: A Comprehensive Guide

Job scams are on the rise, and it’s important to be able to identify them before you become a victim. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common job scams, as well as how to avoid them. We’ll also provide some tips for finding legitimate job postings.

Your job search shouldn’t put you at risk, but if you’re not careful, that’s exactly what can happen. It can put you at risk for identity theft, financial theft, and more. That’s what this article aims to prevent. We want the scammers to lose and we want you to win BIG. Here’s how you can make that happen.

What Are Job Scams and What Do They Look Like

Job scams are predatory schemes designed to trick unsuspecting job seekers into divulging sensitive personal or financial information or paying money upfront in exchange for a job offer that never materializes. They’ve always existed, but now job scams are so prevalent online that job seekers must be ever vigilant.

These scams can take many different forms, such as fake job postings on job search websites, job offers that are emailed to job seekers, or job listings on social media platforms. Knowing exactly what to look for is key to protecting yourself from becoming the victim of a scam.

Common Job Scams

There are some job titles or postings that are more likely to be scams than others. The reason these jobs make for excellent scam fodder is their search volume. Job seekers search these titles frequently, making them prime targets for scammers.

Frequently scammed job titles include:

  • Assistant jobs
  • Receptionist jobs
  • Delivery driver and chauffeur jobs
  • Warehouse jobs

Assistant and receptionist jobs are targeted because scammers can hook job seekers with “too good to be true” postings promising work from home, better-than-average pay, and other highly desirable perks in what looks like legitimate job offers. Once they have the job seekers interested, the scammers request personal information.

Driver and warehouse jobs are highly searched and the scammers offer high pay and good working hours. Once the job seekers are hooked, the scammers ask for personal or financial information.

Another scam to remain vigilant for is work-from-home scams, especially in this post-pandemic age of remote and hybrid work. Work-from-home scams are rampant and ready to take advantage of anyone who isn’t paying attention.

These job scams will offer easy work for top dollar from the comfort of your own home. Sounds brilliant, right? Too good to be true? Yes, it is. Don’t fall for it.

There’s no such thing as making thousands of dollars a month stuffing envelopes in your living room. Nor can you earn a living without any experience just by entering simple data into your computer day in and day out. It’s simply not true.

Save yourself the frustration and possible devastation from the scammers’ theft and leave those lying “job posts” alone.

Common Job Scam Warning Signs

There are several warning signs and red flags commonly associated with job scams. To arm yourself against these schemes, it is important to be aware of them so you can avoid them throughout your job search.

  • Requests for upfront payment or sensitive personal information
  • Application fees
  • Poor grammar or spelling in job postings or communications
  • Job offers that seem too good to be true
  • Inflated job titles or job descriptions
  • Unrealistic job qualifications
  • Inability to interview in person or over the phone
  • All communication is via text messages
  • Requests for a credit report or copy of your Social Security card

If you come across a job listing or job offer that includes any of these red flags, proceed with caution and do your research to confirm that the job is legitimate before responding.

Or, if your gut simply tells you the post or contact is bogus, walk away. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution when it comes to job scams. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How to Avoid Job Scams

In addition to watching out for warning signs, there are a few general tips you can follow to avoid job scams:

Do your research

When you come across a job listing that interests you, take the time to do some research on the company or individual behind the listing. Search for information about their job posting history, their business reputation, and any customer reviews or complaints that may be available online.

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The Better Business Bureau is an excellent place to start your research into a company’s reputation. Also, check to see if the job is posted on multiple sites. If it’s not, it means the job is either a scam or has been filled.

Be cautious of job listings on social media sites

Many job scams are posted on social media platforms, so it’s important to exercise caution if you come across job offers posted here. Always do your research before you apply for any job, and be sure to verify the legitimacy of the job listing and the company or individual behind it.

Be wary of job offers that are emailed to you

If you receive a job offer via email, be cautious. Job scams are often disseminated through email, so it’s important to exercise caution when applying for jobs that you’ve found through this method. As with job listings on social media, always do your research before you apply for any job that you’ve found via email.

Never pay for a job

One of the most common job scam red flags is a request for payment in order to apply for a job or secure an interview. Legitimate employers will never ask you to pay for a job, so if you’re asked to do so, it’s likely a scam.

Sometimes scammers will disguise the payment request as an “investment”, “application fee,” or “refundable down payment” but do not be fooled. No honest employer will ever ask for payment of any kind when offering you a job. Period.

Don’t give away personal or financial information

Another common job scam red flag is a request for personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number. Never give this information up, even if the job offer seems legitimate.

You will likely be asked for your bank information after you’ve been hired so that the company can set up a direct deposit to your bank account. This process is handled by HR professionals and is safe to do, but only after you’ve signed an employment offer.

Never, ever give this information to a company or an individual during the application or interview process.

What to Do if You Think You’ve Been Scammed

If you believe you have been the victim of a job scam, there are a few steps you can take to file a complaint and try to get your life and job search back on track.

First, contact the company or website where you found the job listing and inform them of the situation. You may also want to file a complaint with the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).

If money was involved, you will probably want to contact your bank or financial institution and let them know what happened so that they can stop payments and cancel credit cards. Having them cancel cards and stop payments will at least prevent additional charges from accumulating while you go through the process of fighting the fallout of the scam.

If you are concerned about identity theft, it is important that you contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you provided personal information, lost money to, or believe there is a possibility that the scammers may have used your information in illegal activities, you may also want to contact your local law enforcement or cybercrime division.

Additionally, you may want to reach out to any job placement services that you used or social media platforms where the job offer was posted for more information on how they screen job postings and protect their users from job scams. If a scam got through their screening process, they’ll want to know about it.

Resources for Finding Legitimate Job Opportunities

If you are looking for a job and want to avoid job scams, there are a number of reliable resources you can turn to for help.
Some good places to start include job search websites such as:

  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder
  • SimplyHired
  • Glassdoor
  • ZipRecruiter

And social media platforms like:

There are also job placement services that can help connect you with legitimate job opportunities, such as staffing agencies or executive search firms.

If you’re a fresh college graduate, there are even job sites specifically geared toward helping you find a job. Some of these sites include:

  • CollegeRecruiter.com
  • AfterCollege.com
  • Internships.com
  • Scouted.io

Find a list of the Top 50 Best Job Search Sites You Need to Know About on Big Interview.
You can also check with your local chamber of commerce or job center for job fairs and events in your area. And here’s a list of 11 high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Join Big Interview

Great interview preparation is about practice. It’s not enough to merely read advice. You have to put it into action. Big Interview’s practice tools simulate live interviews in real time, making you really good, really fast, guaranteed.
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Protect Yourself and Keep Searching

Job scams aren’t going away anytime soon, so job seekers must be prepared. Stick to reliable sites and sources, keep your personal information to yourself, and watch for warning signs and red flags – and if you see them, cancel the interview and walk away.

By following these simple but effective steps, you can protect yourself from job scams and enjoy a fruitful job search that results in exactly what you’re looking for – the perfect job for you!

Further Reading:
How to Stay Positive During a Job Search
10 Tips to Determine if a Craigslist Job Post is Legitimate
A Guide to Social Networking and Job Search
How to Work a Job Fair

Pamela Skillings
Pamela is the co-founder of BigInterview and an expert interview coach on a mission to help job seekers get their dream jobs. As an HR authority, she also provides consulting services to companies wishing to streamline their hiring process.

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