In today’s job market filled with remote work opportunities, it can be easy to fall for a job scam – a fake job posting created by fraudsters attempting to collect your personal information and money. Although job scams can also appear to be local, in-person jobs, work-from-home job scams are becoming even more popular, as scammers can easily get away with unfamiliar company names and interviews that take place virtually since they appear to be from out of state.
Here’s how the scams typically play out, some tips to avoid them, and what you should do if you’re a victim.
How job scams work
Fraudsters use the typical advertising methods – online ads, social media, job sites, newspaper, TV and radio – to promote their fake jobs. While they could promote any job, they typically promise high paying jobs that require little time and effort and come with great benefits. Some of the most common fake jobs include virtual personal assistant jobs, jobs that entail reshipping or reselling merchandise, nanny or caregiver jobs, and mystery shopper jobs. You can find a description of each of these types of job scams on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
Once you apply for the job and provide your personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank information, and more, the scam may stop there. The fraudster may try to commit identity theft with the information you provided, or they may attempt to go a step further and steal your money too. Common ways they do this is by asking you to purchase job training materials, requesting you purchase gift cards for a client, or even sending you a check and asking you to send part of the money to someone else. Once you send the money, it’s discovered that the check is fake and you’re in the negative.
Tips to avoid job scams
As you search for jobs, keep your eyes open for red flags and promises that seem too good to be true. Here are a few tips to help you avoid falling for a job scam:
- Research the company you’re applying to work for. Look for their website, LinkedIn and other platforms that indicate they are a legitimate employer.
- If you’ve landed an interview, research the recruiter and look for their contact information on the company website or search for the person on LinkedIn.
- Don’t provide your Social Security number or financial information in a job application. A legitimate employer will not ask for this information before formally employing you.
- Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers will never ask you to send money or buy gift cards to get a job.
What to do if you’re a victim of a job scam
Depending on the severity of your fraud situation, there are several steps you can take. If you simply spotted the scam but did not fall for it, you can file a complaint with the FTC to help them stop the fraudster. If you paid the fraudster, contact the company you used to send the money, report the fraud and ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. Also contact your financial institution so they are aware of the situation. For specific advice and tips on how to reverse different types of payments, read this article from the FTC.
Even for sophisticated job seekers, it can be hard to tell the difference between a scam and a genuine offer. By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs, you can make your job search much safer.