How to Spot the Scam:

Your Guide to Job Searching Online

While online searching gives job seekers access to thousands of legitimate new positions every day, the unfortunate reality is that career hopefuls will also find themselves running into fake postings and scams throughout their search.

Online scams have always been present, but have become even more prevalent in the wake of COVID-19. According to recent data from the Federal Trade Commission, in Q2 of 2020, more than 11,000 income scams were reported, a 70% increase from reports captured in Q2 of 2019.

So, what do you look for? How can you best equip yourself to sort through what is real and what is a scam? We have developed the guide below to help you evaluate the legitimacy of job postings.

Jack would call it magic beans. Trust your gut when it comes to “opportunities” that seem too good to be true. If there is something that gives you pause or the salary and expectations simply do not line up, it is likely a scam. There are rarely times when a six-figure salary requires no experience or training.

Language that is non-specific. When someone says they work for “a company” and cannot offer detailed job duties, qualifications or verifiable contact information, they are most likely phishing for personal information from you.

Riddled with typos. Take a look at the grammar, spelling and punctuation in the job posting and ongoing communications. We are all human and the occasional error is not a hard stop, but real companies hire people who can write a polished and professional job description.

Vague follow-up avenues. If you don’t see an official way to get in touch, dig deeper. One method is to look at the signature line in your contact’s email address. If the email doesn’t include the company’s name, address or phone number, they may not be real. If the communication does not come from an official company email address and instead uses Gmail or another personal email server, it can be a big red flag. 

All you need to get started is your firstborn and a drop of blood. If you haven’t been hired or even spoken with a live person yet and they are asking you for your social security number or bank account information, it’s a scam. Another tip: before entering personal information online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the web address bar. The address should read https://, not http://.

First step is $$$. Some scammers ask for your personal bank account to transfer money from one account to another claiming it’s part of their onboarding or equipment purchase process. This is money laundering and it’s illegal. Other scams ask you to receive and forward packages from your home. These packages might contain stolen goods or illegal substances. Keep in mind, if you were scammed and didn’t know it, you can still be held liable. 

There is no in-person interaction. On its own, this does not guarantee a scam, especially in the COVID world of virtual interviewing and remote work. Many companies conduct interviews via phone, Zoom, Skype or Google Meet. However, if the interviewer is trying to connect exclusively through a chat or messaging app (WhatsApp, Yahoo, etc.), it’s cause for concern. If you haven’t spoken with them over the phone, that’s another good indicator it may be a scam.

Where’s waldo? You should research each company before you ever even submit an application with your name and contact information to them. Get to know their website, social media presence and any recent news or updates. If you can’t find anything at all – it’s probably a scam. However, even if you do find a website, it doesn’t always mean they are legitimate. A lot of scammers set up fake websites to draw people in, and other scammers will use actual companies (without their knowledge) as a front. If you have any concerns, ALWAYS contact the company’s headquarters by finding a verified email address or corporate phone number.

Method of Notification. Not all interview notifications are calls – they may come in the form of email, text or LinkedIn message. Similarly, many companies have turned to a completely virtual interview process. Just because it’s not a call from corporate headquarters doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate opportunity. If you don’t recall applying directly to their company, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as how they received your contact information or why they selected your profile or resume.

Staffing agency. Some companies pay third-party agencies to hire and onboard their employees. This is a quick and easy way for employers to expand their recruiting pool of talent and pass off many of the administrative tasks that come with new hires. Do your research to find out more about the relationship between the agency and the company they are staffing. 

Delayed Interview. Sometimes an interviewer will hold on to your resume and reach out months later after receiving a confirmed contract or approved budget for the position. It’s not unrealistic to hear from an employer several months after your application was submitted, but it’s best to keep a running list of all your applications and communications so you can track each one and put in the same research and due diligence as if you’d just applied. 

Various Recruiters. Oftentimes a company will have a few dozen recruiters working on openings at any given time, it is not uncommon to get an email from one recruiter but to have the interview with a different recruiter. Be sure to check their email addresses and LinkedIn pages if anything feels out of place once you’ve been passed on to a new contact.

Being asked to interview for a job you didn’t apply for. This is a very common situation. Here at Hire Heroes USA, we may have submitted you for an IT role, but the recruiter took a look at your resume and decided you’re a better fit for a Program Manager role. Don’t automatically decline the interview because the job description differs from your initial application. Even if this new role may not be ideal for you, we recommend taking the interview to network and practice interviewing. You never know when having a contact at that company will come in handy!

Not all scams are easy to uncover. Scammers know job seekers are keen to their tricks, so they adapt and change with the times. At the end of the day, your gut instinct and your research will be your two best resources to prevent from being scammed. For additional information on this topic, visit the Federal Trade Commission

If you’re interested in receiving free career support with Hire Heroes USA, click here to learn more.