Email Job Scams (and How To Avoid Them)
It can be hard to tell whether an email message regarding a job is a scam or a legitimate employment-related email message. However, there are some tip-offs when it comes to fake jobs and some ways to tell whether an email you received about a job is real—or not.
For example, many job scams will send you an email saying that you got the job before ever meeting with you in person. If that sounds unlikely, it’s because it is. It’s hard to imagine many scenarios where a company would offer a job without an interview.
Occasionally, the “employer” will speak to you briefly on the phone, but most of your contact with the “company” will be via email. The “company” typically will ask you to forward or wire money from a personal account to another account to get started with your new position.
No legitimate employer will ever ask you to transfer money or pay to get hired. If the company asks you to forward or wire money, it’s a major red flag, and you should stop all communications.
Types of Email Job Scams
Some job scams do not even use job search websites. Instead, they send emails directly to individual email addresses. You may receive an email offering you a job; the email is often from a Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or Hotmail account, although scammers occasionally use a fake company domain name.
Legitimate hiring managers do not use a personal email address. If the email comes from a company domain, check that it matches the actual company domain. That is, if you get an email from [email protected], for example, confirm that “companyabc.com” is the company’s real website.
Once again, these unsolicited job offers are not legitimate; no company will offer you a job without even knowing who you are.
Other email scams use a technique called “spoofing.” They send you an email containing a link to a posting that appears to come from a legitimate job search site, but it is, in fact, fraudulent.
Never respond to job offers that ask you to wire money, cash checks, submit your credit card information, pay for a credit report, or do any other transactions that require a fee to get hired. When you’re asked to pay for a job or share personal financial account details, it’s a classic sign of a job scam.
Work at Home Job Scam Example
Here’s an example of a scam email sent to a job seeker.
[Company Name] company was established in 2020 by an international team of financial and marketing experts. We specialize in delivering positive business results through solving currency exchange problems as well as online payments and transactions, their tools being innovative solutions, high performance, and e-commerce optimization techniques.
We offer a “work at home” part-time position, “Regional Manager.” This includes processing payments between our partners’ clients and our company, ensuring all personal data relating to customers is maintained, accurate, and kept discreet, and identifying opportunities to improve service delivery.
Position Type: Permanent. Working hours: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM weekdays. Variable overtime is also required.
Occupation Type: part-time (1-5 hours a day occupation).
Salary: $40 per hour.
Professional qualities and skills:
- Scrupulous and diligent
- Computer literate
- Good organizational and administrative skills
- Payment procedures prior experience would be an asset
- Ability to work independently
Please REPLY to this email to receive further information and application forms.
How to Tell if a Job Email is a Scam
Here are some of the red flags that can help determine if an email is not a legitimate offer.
An unsolicited and inaccurate email. The unsolicited job posting email message came with a job site logo and said it was sent because a resume was on that job site (it’s not). I hadn’t applied for the job or posted my resume.
The reply email. The reply address is Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or another personal email address, not a company address. The message says to reply to the email to get more information and an application.
Small errors and typos. The message wasn’t addressed to the recipient. Like anyone else, hiring managers can make mistakes. Still, if you notice a lot of typos, or small errors (like the email being addressed to the wrong person, or not mentioning your name), that’s a sign that something fishy is going on.
The job offer requires processing payments. This is a type of money laundering job scam.
Tip: If you get an unexpected email about a job, try searching for the company online. (Try searching “company name” + “scam.”) You can also check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Also search for the sender’s name. That will help you determine if the recruiter is fake.
Steps to Take After Receiving an Unsolicited Email About a Job
If you receive an email like the one above, you can take the following steps to help understand if it is legit or a scam:
Read carefully for typos and errors. Plus, if there is a logo in the email, check if it looks professional and matches the company’s logo online.
Research the company. Do a quick online search. Does the company have a website and presence online? Try searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau website, and searching the company name along with the word “scam.”
Be skeptical if the job boasts flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home. Not all remote work jobs are scams, but many of them are.
Gauge the salary. If the rate seems far higher than what you’d expect for the role, that’s another red flag.
Be careful. If you decide the offer seems legit, and do reply to an email, be thoughtful about what information you share. Do not share financial information or pay the company. Treat requests for personal information (your mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your social security) with much skepticism, and do not share this information.
Tip: Email job scams are just one of the many different types of employment-related scams. Here’s how to spot and avoid job scams so you’re not taken advantage of by scammers.