How To Tell If a Job Posting Is a Scam
Job scams are on the rise. The Better Business Bureau estimates that millions of job seekers experience employment scams each year. The total cost of this type of fraud reaches $2 billion annually, and the most vulnerable among us are the most likely to be targeted. Many fraudsters target the unemployed.
Employment scammers are more sophisticated than ever before. Gone are the days when you could count on misspelled job ads or obvious fakes to identify less-than-genuine job listings.
Many of today’s job scams may appear to originate from legitimate companies, reference real recruiters in the listing, and even include an interview process.
Job Scam Warning Signs
So how can you keep yourself safe from job posting scams? Look for one or more of these red flags:
Requests for Money
Legitimate employers will never ask you to pay a fee to apply for a job. Nor will you be asked to pay for training, materials, or equipment—ever. Likely, you know this, but scammers will try to get around your misgivings by promising reimbursement for expenses at a later date (one that will never arrive). Alternatively, they might send you a check for the amount promised, which may even be credited to your account initially, but will eventually turn out to be fraudulent.
Beware of any job posting that offers higher-than-expected pay. Real companies don’t offer salaries that are out of line with the job market, especially for jobs that don’t require a specialized skill set. If the salary seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Vague Job Descriptions
What are the duties, responsibilities, and requirements for this role? Real employers will tell you what they’re looking for, often in exhaustive detail. If the job listing is vague about the details, chances are that you’re dealing with a scammer.
Scammy Job Titles
While job scammers can target any job title, some types of listings are more commonly frauds than others. Keep an eye out for reshipping jobs, data entry gigs, mystery shoppers, nanny or caregiver roles, assembly gigs, car wrap opportunities, and envelope-stuffing jobs.
Moving the Conversation
Many scammers start by listing job opportunities on legitimate sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Facebook. Once you’re hooked, the scammer sends you a link to continue the conversation via a different messaging service or video app. Typically, you will be asked to provide personal information like your Social Security number, driver’s license number, or bank account number. The fraudster will then attempt to steal your identity.
Tips for Vetting Job Postings
As the fakes get more real-looking, you’ll need to do more due diligence to determine whether the job listings you see are the real deal. Here’s how:
Compare the Listing Against the Company’s Website
Fake job postings often reference real companies like Amazon or Walmart. If you click their links, you may see a job listing. However, if you go directly to the alleged employer, you won’t see similar job ads.
Match the Email Address
Scammers are good at devising email addresses that are close to legitimate recruiters’ and hiring managers’ email addresses. Often, these addresses will be just slightly off. For example, you might see an email address from [email protected] instead of [email protected] Check the corporate website to see if you can figure out their conventions.
Do Not Click Embedded Links
Job sites usually manage applications in one of two ways: directly through their system or by forwarding you to the employer’s website. However, even if you’re asked to apply through an employer site, you won’t find the link embedded in the job posting text. Instead, you’ll see a button that says “Apply on Company Site” or similar.
Never Share Personal Information
During a real job interview process, you will eventually have to share information like your Social Security number to complete a background check. However, you’ll never be asked for this data before you interview. Similarly, you’ll never be asked to share your bank account information before receiving and accepting a job offer (which should come at the end of a process involving a few interviews, not immediately during a first conversation).
Look for Signs of Sloppiness
We said that job scams are getting more sophisticated—but that doesn’t mean that every fake hiring manager has gotten that memo. Read job listings carefully to look for typos, grammatical errors, or other signs that the poster was in a hurry. Sure, HR departments are overburdened but most will take the time to ensure that candidates get a good first impression of their organization. It’s a matter of protecting the company brand.
Tip: Review the top 10 warning signs that a job is a scam, so it doesn’t happen to you.