Sadly scammers are on the increase, with more and more fictitious jobs appearing on job boards, and more and more unsuspecting job seekers being conned into parting with their hard earned money, or becoming victims of identity theft.
What is a job scam? A job scam occurs when a scammer poses as an employer or recruiter, and offers attractive employment opportunities which require that the job seeker pay money in advance. This is usually under the guise of work visas, travel expenses or background and or credit checks that are required for the job. Once the money has been paid over the scammer disappears, and the job seeker is left with no job, and out of pocket.
Whatever the scammer’s technique is and how they go about their modus operandi, their goal is always the same. To separate you from your cash, or to obtain your confidential personal information, that can be used in identity theft.
The problem is, that scammers are becoming more and more crafty in the way they operate, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to know what is a scam and what is a legitimate job opening.
It also appears that more and more often, the scammers are targeting job seekers from overseas, such as hopeful immigrants or contractors, where they use the lure of huge salaries, work permits and paid travel as ways of enticing the job seeker to part with their money.
So how do you recognize a job scam, and what signs should you look out for?
- Never part with your money. The golden rule is, any job offer that requires that you pay a fee in advance, is probably a scam. Most reputable companies will absorb these costs themselves. Another warning sign, is if the recruiter offers to train you for the job, in return for money. NEVER pay money across ever. No legitimate company or recruiter will ask for money upfront. Not for anything.
- Do some research on the company. Visit the company’s website. If they do not have one, or it does not have contact details, then you need to tread cautiously. If there is a company website, compare the contact numbers, email addresses etc., to what would appear when doing a Google on the company or in a company directory.
- Free email accounts. Any recruiter or company that corresponds from a free email account such as Yahoo, Live, Hotmail or Gmail is very likely a scammer. Legitimate job related emails will come from corporate email accounts.
- Do a Google search on the company. Do a search on the company name and see what information you can find. Compare it to the information that you have been sent.
- Check scam lists. Always check with organisations such as Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission to see if the company has been reported as a scammer.
- Offers without interviews. Always remember that reputable companies are not going to offer you a role without interviewing your first. Flattering as it may seem that they were so impressed with your resume, that they have offered you a position without meeting you first, the reality is, that you are probably being scammed if this happens. Never, ever accept a job offer that has come through via email, when you have never had a telephonic or face-to-face interview.
- Work from home. If this appears in the job title, the chances are very real that it is a scam. The chances of making money in your pajamas may sound enticing, and the idea of making a lot of money whilst being able to work from home is just too good to pass for many gullible job seekers, and because of this, it is a favorite with scammers. Unsuspecting job seekers have been falling for this type of scam for years now.
- Receiving offers for jobs you did not apply for. If you receive an offer in your inbox for a job that you have not even applied for, and it sounds too good to be true, then it is too good to be true.
- Salaries that are way over what you would normally earn. Getting paid a really high salary is not the norm for all job seekers. Any legitimate employer will evaluate your skill set and experience, before deciding on what you are worth. If the company offers you a salary that is completely out of your range, and experience, you are probably in the process of being scammed.
- Don’t hand out personal information. Never part with your social security number or personal information. By divulging this information, you may just be setting the scene for the scammer to pose as you to apply for credit cards, and run up massive bills in your name and ruin your credit record. The only time you should be handing over personal information such as social security numbers, is after you have been hired and are setting up payment and tax information.
- Be cautious of emails with grammatical and spelling mistakes. Most online fraud is carried out by scammers outside of the United States, with English often not being their home language, so check the grammar and spelling carefully when communicating.
- Fake URLs (websites). Scammers often use fake URLs to mask themselves as large well known corporates. Double check the URL, or the web address of the company. You may think that you are on a well-known company’s website, when you are actually on a bogus website. So always check the URL first.
- Vague sketchy job descriptions. If you read the job description and at the end of it, you are not really sure what the job actually entails, or if the role states that there is no specific skill necessary for the job, you are probably about to be scammed. The majority of jobs will require at least some experience or qualification.
The consequences of falling prey to scammers, can include identity theft, the loss of your hard earned money, and illegal charges to your credit card. It can be a very hard lesson to have to learn, and devastating for already cash strapped job seekers. Don’t learn the hard way. Before falling prey to unscrupulous scammers, do your homework and checks very carefully.