According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Better Business Bureau, losses from employment scams rose 27% between 2018 and 2020. This unfortunate statistic is indicative of a growing trend, and it's become difficult for law enforcement agencies to keep up. That means the responsibility for avoiding scams falls largely to job seekers. The best way to avoid having your money or information stolen is to learn what the most common scams look like; that way, you can identify a scammer before they steal your money or information.
How to Identify Job Scams
There are a couple of common elements most job scams will have, no matter their specific type. These are especially common in work from home scams, which will try to entice prospective “employees” with the promise of no commute and zero office time.
Common scam red flags include:
- Asking for Credit Card Information.
- Requesting Money, Usually for Equipment.
- Forcing the Download of a Subscription-Based Program.
- Asking for Bank Account Numbers for Direct Deposit (Before Proper Employment Has Been Established.)
In all cases, the goal is for the scammer to either get money directly, or get access to accounts where they can transfer money easily. Scammers may also try to steal your personal information as well, allowing them to commit identity theft.
Common Types of Job Scams
- Indeed Job Scams: Job scams on Indeed usually involve inappropriately high pay for the industry, flexible schedules, and some requirement of payment to the hiring company.
- Unsolicited Offers: Getting an offer out of the blue is possible, especially in certain highly sought after professions, but for the most part an unsolicited offer should be met with skepticism.
- Data Entry Scams: There are legitimate data entry jobs, but what sets a scam apart is mainly a ridiculous high hourly rate or “training” that you need to pay for.
- Online Re-Shipping: Most reshipping jobs are actually against the law, as the goods being forwarded tend to be stolen. If you see a posting for a simple “repackaging and shipping” job, stay far away.
- Comcast Job Scams: A career with the company Comcast can be lucrative, but many job postings for this business are fake. Any interview asking you to download Telegram (a popular messaging service often exploited by cybercriminals) or send payments electronically is most likely attempting to scam you.
What Are Work from Home Scams?
As more companies begin to offer the ability to work from home, or WFH, scammers have used this rising trend to steal money and personal information. Work from home scams will often offer far over the market average for hourly pay, very little information about the company, and an overeagerness to fill the position.
To avoid WFH scams, make sure you:
- Don’t accept calls or messages from phone numbers you don’t recognize.
- Do not transfer sensitive information to a company claiming to offer a WFH position until you confirm their identity.
- Never make payments to a prospective employer; a real job will not ask you for money to acquire a position.
What Are Email Job Scams?
One of the more popular ways to phish information from unsuspecting job seekers, these scams come in the form of an email asking you to click on a link. This link will usually take you to a fake employment website that will ask for your full legal name, social security number, and other sensitive data. You’ll want to find out how to spot job scams by looking for these red flags:
- Sketchy links sent to you through email.
- Emails appearing to come from friends or family that contain strange messages.
- Emails requesting payment, either for recruitment services or training fees.
Fake Jobs on Social Media
Social media can be a hot bed for scams as well, with Facebook job scams being the most common. Scammers will use ads on Facebook, which offer insane yearly salaries for low-qualification work, to get candidates to submit bank account information and log in credentials. Learning how to avoid job scams on social media can help safeguard your data, and ensure you don’t waste time on your job search.
To avoid job scams on social media, make sure you:
- Check the account of the person sending you the offer. If it seems new or mostly empty, it's likely a scammer.
- Make sure the person has a verified account if they claim to represent a certain company.
- Try messaging a different account for that company to verify the identity of the recruiter.
What to Do If You’ve Paid a Scammer
If you have paid a scammer, you should report the transaction to your bank immediately. If the payment can be confirmed as fraudulent, there is a good chance they can freeze the transfer or get you a refund. Many banks have reimbursement policies in the case of fraud. If you gave the scammer personal information, you should run an identity theft protection scan. The free quick can help you identify where your information has gone, and whether or not you are at risk of identity theft.
How to Make Sure to Avoid Job Scams
While we’ve covered a couple of specific ways to avoid job scams, there are a few overarching guidelines to follow when determining whether you are dealing with a scammer.
- Scammers will not be able to prove they work with a company in any real manner beyond their initial claims. Press for information, and if you meet resistance, you may be dealing with a fraudulent recruiter.
- A legitimate job will almost never ask you for payment. Scammers will not only ask you for money, but they will do so with urgency. The faster they can get your cash, the quicker they can delete their accounts and move on. Never send money!
- Sometimes scammers will offer to pay in a non-traditional format, like “prizes”, gift cards, or credit that can be used through a company store. Never accept an offer that doesn’t have a traditional system of payment.