Looking for Work? Protect Yourself From Job Search Scams

Most job searches and applications for a new job are now completed on-line. Unfortunately, the rise of on-line job applications has also given rise to a new and very real risk for workers and consumers— Job Scams.

When looking for a new job, you may encounter posts advertising fake jobs or career opportunities. Scammers advertise jobs the same way honest employers do — online (in ads, on job sites, and social media), in newspapers, and sometimes on TV and radio. They promise you a job, but what they want is your money and your personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission recently released an article that outlines examples of job scams, ways to avoid them, and what to do if you suspect you may have fallen prey to a scammer.

See: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/job-scams

Here are some highlights from the FTC article:

Examples of Job Scams

  • Work-from-home job scams

The job could be anything from reshipping products to selling things to people you know. Sometimes the scammers try to get you interested by saying that you can be your own boss, start your own business, or set your own schedule. But instead of making money, you end up paying for starter kits, so-called training, or certifications that are useless. If someone offers you a job and claims that you can make a lot of money in a short period of time with little work, that’s almost certainly a scam.

Examples of work-from-home job scams include:

  • Reshipping scams.
  • Reselling merchandise scams.
  • Nanny, caregiver, and virtual personal assistant job scams
  • Mystery shopper scams
  • Job placement service scams

While many staffing agencies, temporary agencies, headhunters, and other placement firms deliver honest job search services, others lie about what they will do for you, promote outdated or fake job openings, and charge fees for their services. Honest placement firms do not typically charge a fee to job candidates. If a placement firm asks you for a fee — especially one you have to pay in advance —beware.

How To Avoid a Job Scam

Before you accept a job offer, take these steps to avoid common job scams:

  • Search online. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” See if others say they’ve been scammed by that company or person.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think?
  • Don't pay for the promise of a job. Honest employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Never bank on a “cleared” check. No honest potential employer will ever send you a check to deposit and then tell you to send on part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam and if you cash the check it will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the money.

Other warning signs that a job posting might be a scam include:

Unnecessary calls: A scam caller may call repeatedly, trying to pressure you into accepting their offer. They may claim you will lose the opportunity to apply for a job if you don't immediately respond or agree to the terms.

Unprofessional emails: Most legitimate companies employ professionals to handle their social media and email accounts and are well-written. By contrast, scam emails often contain obvious errors and vague contact details.

Fake accounts and websites: Scammers commonly create online platforms for made-up employers or fake channels for real companies. Warning signs for these accounts are when they have very little information or are only newly created.

Upfront details: Scammers try to access your information and may request your personal details upfront. They might ask for documentation such as proof of residence or financial statements with the promise of a direct connection to job opportunities. Usually legitimate employers don’t ask for this information until after you have received a job offer. And real employers don't ask for upfront payments in exchange for employment.

High paying job offers: An offer that comes with a high salary but vague details is suspect. The scammer is hoping to lure you with the promise of riches while the job likely doesn't exist. If you apply, you may find the "employer" asking you to pay fees or reveal sensitive details.

Unfamiliar software: When a legitimate employer wants to set up an online interview, they're likely to use a well-known, well-reputed app. If they ask you to install an unfamiliar piece of software, this is a sign that the job is a scam.

Report Job Scams to the FTC

If you see a job scam, or lose money to one, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also report it to your state attorney general.

If you have lost money to a scam, the FTC offers advice on what to do: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed

For more information and a list of 17 of the most common job scams, see: