A drastic increase in the number of online job openings and professional networking websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, has certainly streamlined the process of job hunting. However, it prompted a rise in online job scams. As per the statistical data of Better Business Bureau, more than 13,000 job listing scams were reported in North America alone since the global pandemic hit in December. Amidst the anxiety of losing your current job and searching for a new one, the last thing you want to do is getting trapped into a job scam. Therefore, it is utmost essential to know all the warning signs so that you can avoid falling into being a victim at the hands of scammers.
This blog is a guide to differentiate legitimate jobs from scams. Also, it provides all the job scams signs you must not ignore and precautions you should take to protect yourself from fraud jobs.
What is an Online Job Scam?
An online job scam is a form of cyber-crime, wherein the scammers prey upon the people searching online networking sites for new job openings. The fundamental agenda of a scammer is to access the personal information of job seekers such as credit card data or bank account details. Often times job hunters overlook red flags concerning the online listing in the rush of finding a position and getting a stable job.
The Federal Trade Commission states that some scammers try to phish credit card or bank account numbers out of you. Whereas, the other exhorts you to pay for training materials or certification for jobs that don’t even exist. Hence, the scammer aims to trick people into cashing fraudulent checks.
To deceive the candidates searching online jobs, scammers post their job listings on some of the trusted networking platforms that several legitimate employers also use. This makes it difficult for the job hunters to identify the legit ones and they ultimately fall into the trap of the scammer.
Warning Signs that indicate a Job is not Legit rather a Scam
Fortunately, there are adequate warning signs you can look out for in an online job listing to ensure you are not dealing with a scammer. Beware of the following job scam signs:
Vague Job Description in Ad Posting- When companies are in search of competent staff, they want their online job ads to be more specific and elaborative. Legitimate online jobs will always provide a clear description of duties, roles, and responsibilities required for the job opening. They might also give a salary range and additional benefits one can expect from the company. On the other hand, you need to be cautious of vague job ads that provide little information about the position being offered. Scammers usually fail to create realistic job descriptions in their ads as it is time-consuming, so look for this major red flag.
Unprofessional email Address- Genuine and real employers tend to have professional email accounts, they never use Gmail or Yahoo accounts when sending a job offer. Therefore, be skeptical of a job offer with a personal email address instead of a business address. Further, if the email is misspelled or possesses grammatical errors, then consider it as yet another sign of job scam. As many a times they try to copy the email id of a legitimate company by omitting or adding an additional letter.
Irrational Salary Package- Does the salary in the job offer seems too good to be true? chances are, it is. Mostly, companies create value for a position based on the market pay rate in the similar industries. Though salary is a crucial factor when finding a job, but if it looks suspiciously high for the job you are seeking, then it can possibly be a scam.
Excessive demand for Upfront Fees– Unlike a legitimate employer, scammers compel you to pay huge amount of fees for the software, certification, or training material before applying for the job. To look bona fide some scammers might also go to the extent of sending you fake training materials while the others choose to disappear after you send the required funds to them. So, don’t empty your pockets on a scam job rather verify if the company you are dealing with is reputed and has been into the business for a reasonable time.
Requesting Financial Details or Sensitive Information– A scammer knows all the ways to exploit and manipulate a job seeker. For that reason, scam jobs will always request financial or personal information from the candidates prior to completing the hiring process. It is prudent to not give out your bank account details over the phone to any company unless you have met the recruiters in person and have made an official agreement to pay for something.
No interview conducted in-person or via a secure Video Call- It is self-evident that scammers don’t want to leave any clue which intimates about their original purpose. That’s why they hold online interviews through chat such as WeChat, Google Hangout, etc. Even if they contact you via email, take a closer look at their email address which may appear to be similar to the real company, but not accurately correct.
Fake Check Scam– One of the biggest tactics of a scammer is to send fake check to job seekers and ask them to deposit it. The check comes with the instructions to send most of the money back or forward it to some unfamiliar third party in the form of wire transfer or gift card. Subsequently, the check bounces after 10 days and you end up losing all your money. These scams work because the fake checks look similar to real checks and even the bank employees fail to identify them. The fake checks are often printed with the name & address of a legitimate financial institution.
Just in case, any of your recent job opportunities associate with the above-stated signs, you should cease the application process and invest time to investigate the whole matter.
Useful Tips to Avoid Online Job Scams
As prevention is better than cure, it is better to be vigilant and one step ahead of the scammers. Here are some precautions you can take to avoid job scamps and being entrapped:
Research about the Company- The first and foremost thing you can do after receiving a job offer is to search the company’s name on Google or any other search engine. By doing this you can discover the basic information about the company like the employer’s identity, listed contact number, physical address, and so on. Besides, if you are not able to find any relevant information online? Then you might be dealing with a scammer offering you a fake job.
Safeguard your Personal & Financial Details- Never hand over your bank account information or Social Security number to any company, until you have been hired by them. Do not fall for the trap of scammers when they ensure you that their intent of using your financial information is to set a direct deposit on your account. Keep in mind that Legitimate companies always ask for the bank account details after hiring employees for payroll purposes.
Never Pay to land a Job- Regardless of how desperately you need a job, don’t be lured by the fraudulent scammers. Remember, companies pay employees, it does not work the other way around. If you’re being asked to spend some fixed amount of starting fees, it’s definitely a scam and you must walk away. Also, never send money back to someone who sent you a check.
Carefully assess the Job Postings- Take time to analyze each job posting before applying. Focus on the errors, typos, and some suspicious terms such as wire transfers that indicates a scam job.
Be cynical of Personal Email Addresses– Scammers are a pro at stealing company’s names and logos to appear Legitimate. So, stop yourself from letting your guards down once you see a real logo or a familiar company’s name in the email signature. Always check onto the actual email address they’re using.
Connect with renowned headhunters- Last but not the least, you should always take professional assistance from a reputable job agency or headhunting firm. With years of experience and expertise in the field of employment, such agencies are no stranger to the wicked plans of scammers. Thus, they can help to get through the online job scams.
What to do when scammed with a Fake Job Offer?
Now that you have perceived the above advice, you can protect yourself from online job scams. However, mistakes are inevitable and if you have fallen a victim to an online job scam, these are some steps that can help to minimize the damage:
- The best practice is to close the bank account/s that were impacted by the scam and open a new account with a new bank.
- If at any point you have provided your social security number, call for credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) every 3 months to monitor any unusual activity.
- Close all the email accounts you used to communicate with the scammer.
- Another important step you can take is to report job posting, company name, email address to the site wherein the fraudulent job posting was listed so they can take necessary actions to remove the fake ad and investigate further.
- React out to your nearby police department and file a report against the scammer, if you were a victim of any kind of fraud.
- If caught up in a fake check scam report that on the official website of the Federal Trade Commission.
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