Spotting a Job Scam

It’s natural to get excited when someone reaches out to you for a potential job, especially if you’ve been looking for months. Unfortunately, there are people out there who use that vulnerability for scams. Below are a few pointers when identifying a potential scam.

  • It seems too good to be true. If the position came too easy – you didn’t apply for the position, the pay seems way too high or you get hired immediately – it could be a scam.
  • Vague information. If there aren’t any job requirements, everyone is qualified, or the job description is extremely vague (doesn’t provide a clear understanding of the role) – it could be scam.
  • You receive unprofessional emails. Watch out for emails that are heavy in spelling, capitalization, punctuation and/or grammatical mistakes. There will always be human error, but real companies hire people who can write a job description.
  • They schedule an online interview. Now, this isn’t to say that this alone makes it a scam. Many companies conduct interviews via Skype and Google Hangouts. If the interviewer is trying to connect through Yahoo IM or an outdated messaging platform, it’s cause for concern.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.
  • No contact information. If the email doesn’t include the company’s address and phone number, they may not be a real company. If the person you’re speaking to makes an excuse for using a personal email address by saying the company’s servers are down, it’s a red flag.
  • You Can’t Find Them. You should research all companies that you applying to, so it stands to say that if a company reaches out to you – make sure to do that research before speaking with them. Keep in mind that just because you find information online, it doesn’t mean they are legitimate. If you can’t find anything at all – it’s probably a scam. 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.
  • They ask for confidential information. RUN! If you haven’t been hired yet and they are asking you for your social security number or bank account information, it’s a scam. (Tip: Before entering personal information online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the web address bar. The address should be https:// – not http://)
  • They want to send you money. Again, RUN! You haven’t been hired yet and they want to send you money?! Some scammers ask for your personal bank account to transfer money from one account to another. 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.
  • They want you to pay for stuff. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, RUN! Real companies aren’t going to ask you to buy software, equipment or services. If they need you to buy a certain software (maybe they were going to buy you a laptop for work and you have to buy the software) or anything else like that, just say no thank you and move on.
  • Something just doesn’t feel right. As people, we’re generally pretty intuitive. If your gut is telling you something is off – listen.

Not all scams are easy to uncover. Scammers know job seekers are trying to see through them, so they adapt and change with the times. This means you do have to be very careful. You may be asking why someone would do this? Because – in a generalized sense – job seekers are easy targets. You need work and here comes your “knight in shining armor” wanting to pay you $30/hour to work from home, and BAM! Your gut and your research are going to be your two best resources in preventing yourself from being scammed.

Written by Holly Best, Hire Heroes USA Veteran Transition Specialist