Job Hunting Scams
Date Published: Feb 15, 2023
If finding a job wasn’t tough enough, there are those out there making it harder. Job scams by scammers are unfortunately a thing in today’s society, which may be the last thing you want to have to worry about when looking for a new job.
People looking for jobs can be more vulnerable to scams and cyber-attacks, and therefore are a target. They may be too busy, or in a pressure looking for jobs, that they won’t pay as much attention to potential scams. The scams that are out there can put you in some pretty significant danger.
Job hunters can be targeted by scams that will look to steal things such as your identity, money, and/or financial information. Luckily there are signs to look for to help protect yourself from these scams, so you can job hunt without worrying about getting “hired” by a scam.
Scammed by Email
Email is one tool scammers can use to target specific people, and a large number of people. So, be wary of any job offers you might receive via email that seem to come out of nowhere. Email scams will typically mention things like offering immediate employment, claiming that they found your resume on a career site, or asking for personal information to complete paperwork.
These types of scams can mimic or claim to be from an actual company, and can disguise themselves under any company the scammer wants. Which isn’t ideal, because now you have to take job offer emails from companies like Google or SpaceX with a big grain of salt. If you receive an email regarding a job offer from a company you don’t have any record of applying to, take some precaution. It could be just a phishing email.
One way to recognize a scam is to take a look at the email address. A real company’s email will typically end in @ followed by the company name and a domain such as .org, .gov, .com, or .edu, (ex: @amazon.com). If an email address doesn’t end in this style, take some precaution for it is most likely a scam.
Pay attention to what the email asks for, especially if you haven’t met the employers yet in person. If the email asks for items like a copy of your driver’s license, your Social Security Number, or if they ask you to send money, be very wary. Don’t send anything until you can verify, with 100% certainty, it is legitimate.
Another step to take is to investigate the links in an email that comes without warning. Hover over links with your mouse, or copy and paste them into a word document to reveal the true URL that may be disguised as a fake one.
Lastly, look for any errors in the content of the email. Look for spelling mistakes, bad grammar, or poor/off designs that don’t seem to match a company the email is claiming to have come from, one hundred percent. Emails from legitimate companies go through many reviews, so one with multiple errors may be a sign it is not a good one.
Social Media Phonies
There is a great deal of informative posts and messages bouncing around on social media that are not very trusting, and job opportunities are one of them. Be at least a little suspicious of job recruiters you come across on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Scammers can use social media to create fake profiles or groups and pages to advertise fake jobs. Now, social sites work to eliminate these fake accounts, but sometimes they do get through and target job seekers with scams in an attempt to gain personal information or money.
If you receive an instant message on a social media site with a link to a job application or opportunity, pay close attention to it. Be cautious about any links in the message and try not to click on any before investigating it by copying and pasting it into a word document to see where it actually takes you. You may also receive offers for an interview through a direct messaging service on a social media site.
Going along with paying attention to links, also look out for shortened links such as bit.ly or ow.ly, which can be sent from real or fake accounts. The links could take you anywhere so make sure you can one hundred percent trust the source before doing anything with the link.
If you come across a social media job posting from a page that seems legitimate, double check yourself by visiting that company’s careers pages and see if they are indeed looking to fill that position. When in doubt, check it out.
Getting Asked for Things
If you receive a job opportunity, whether it be by mail, social media message, email, phone call, or smoke signal, asking for money for equipment needed for your job or for personal information, without any sort of formal interview or meeting, be cautious.
No trustworthy company will ask you to pay them for equipment you may or may not need for a job, so this is a big red flag. Often times with scams like these, people will send money to the fake company for equipment only to never actually get the equipment, or the job for that matter.
There is a time in the interview process for a job where an employer will ask for personal information for a background check or to get you in their system. If you ever get asked for personal information early in the interview process or right after you send in your application and/or resume, this is another red flag going up. Especially if the company doesn’t say why they need it, or if it is so early on that it makes you hesitant to send.
Too Good to be True
Let’s say you get a job offer, either after applying, without applying at all, or you come across one, and it just seems almost too perfect. Not to be the rain cloud here, but there is a good chance it probably is.
If you send in your fine-tuned application, and almost right away receive an offer for the position, something isn’t quite right. A legitimate company is going to spend time going through applications and will also want to talk to you first either in person, over the phone, or via video chat.
There is also that instance where you never applied for a job and are yet offered one. If a recruiter contacts you mentioning how they found your resume online and how great you would be for a position you never applied for, there is a chance it could be a scam. It doesn’t hurt to hear them out, but make sure you do your research before you agree to meet with them or send them anything like money or personal information. Employers often receive many application, so recruiters don’t usually have to go looking.
Another too good to be true scenario is if you find a job opening with a pay amount that is two or three times higher than the typical amount for a said position. Paying double or more than the typical, especially someone just starting out with the company, is not great business and will most likely be too good to be non-fiction.
Fake Job/Recruiter/ Employer Websites and Posts
Fake or phishing websites can be tough to spot. They can look completely trusting, but the only goal of websites like these to gain personal information, money, or hack into your computer or send you a virus.
Fake sites will typically require your personal information beyond your name and maybe your zip code (some sites may use your zip code to find jobs in your area). They may also ask for money or financial information, or require you to register before you can see any postings.
You will also want to look for things such as a suspicious URL. URLs that are long, seem to mimic real websites, but aren’t exact (ex: www.thegoogle.com), aren’t secure, or are ones you shouldn’t trust. Look for a “lock” icon next to a URL in your search bar to ensure it is safe. These fake sites also have a good chance of not being found through a search on a website like Google, are instead from a link somewhere else on the internet such as a social media instant message.
When looking at a job post, pay attention look for bad grammar or poor writing. Professional companies don’t let things like more than one or two grammatical errors, wording that seems off, awkward reading, and overly formal writing fly. The job descriptions also won’t be vague and should give you in-depth insight on what the job requires and its expected responsibilities.
If you read a job description that is riddled with mistakes, inappropriate wording, and you aren’t sure what exactly it is for or what you will be doing, you may want to mark it up as a scam to keep yourself safe.
Be a Master Hunter of Job Hunting
Finding a job these days is much easier and faster since you can do it all from your home on your computer. Yet, at the same time, it has its obstacles and scammers take advantage of every opportunity they can to harm you. Don’t let them stop you though, for you have a job and goals to chase.
All you need to do is just be careful and watch out for warning signs. If something seems fishy and has the red flags mentioned above, it may be best to steer clear. Trust any research you do on a job posting. If a recruiter or company cannot be found anywhere online other than a social media post or message, or on a job site, mark it off as a warning sign and continue your search.
Most job postings you come across are going to be legit, so don’t give up searching altogether because of a potential danger. Just pay attention, stay alert, trust your gut, and keep the items discussed in this blog as a resource, and you will have no trouble spotting the scammers in their camouflage while you job hunt.
If you ever fall victim to a scam or feel you are being targeted, you can submit an online report with the FBI at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.