Internet fraud is rampant, affecting banks, hotels, companies small and large, and consumers at every turn. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, Internet-enabled theft, fraud, and exploitation was responsible for $2.7 billion in financial losses in 2018. That is a staggering number.
Unfortunately, even job seekers are falling prey to scammers looking to steal personal information and money from unwitting victims. Most importantly, listen to your gut when job hunting. If a job seems too good to be true, it probably is. Below are some of the most common indicators that an employment posting may actually be a threat to your personal information and your wallet.
An Opportunity Seems Too Good to Be True
As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true… it probably is. Therefore, when a job opportunity sounds too perfect, pay attention. If an employer contacts you when you haven’t contacted them, if the pay doesn’t match the work level (e.g., you don’t have to do much work to receive a high salary), or if you receive a job offer too quickly, these can all be warning signs that a job is a scam.
The same goes for when things don’t add up. If job details are vague or requirements so simple that most anyone would qualify, the opportunity is likely fake. Many employment scam postings don’t include clear job descriptions and if you ask for a list of duties, the interviewer will brush off the request with a “don’t worry, we’ll train you” response.
Other indicators of a potential scam might include:
- No contact information is provided for the individual who has contacted you or correspondence comes from a personal email address
- The contact asks you to send information to a non-company email address like a @gmail, @yahoo or other easy to set-up account.
Online Search Results Don’t Add Up
Before agreeing to an interview, do some online research. If it’s a real company, you should be able to find information, including a point of contact, a corporate website and career page, mentions on Glassdoor.com, news mentions about the company, and more. Check Domain White Pages to see when the corporate website was created. Enter the company’s web address into the “domain or IP address” box and click the “go” button. If the site is less than a year old, be careful.
Many scammers pretend to represent real companies. These fraudulent job postings look very real. Often, they use the logo of a legitimate organization and pull a contact name from their website to enhance the validity of their scam. Telltale signs of a scam like this include:
- You contact’s email address doesn’t mirror other corporate email addresses for the same company (e.g., instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, your contact’s email may be email@example.com)
- The job is not listed on the company’s website
- They want you deposit a check, wire money or send them a cashier’s check
They Want Too Much Personal Information
Many scammers will ask for a lot of personal information—or even your bank account details—up front. They’ll justify these requests by describing them as pre-employment checks. Other times, scammers will require them in order to complete an online application, to deposit a paycheck advance, or to finalize the hiring process.
Other scammers will direct you to a website where you’ll be required to fill out a credit report form or provide personal information so they can put you on the company insurance plan. Identity theft scams like these will request your Social Security number, birth date, driver’s license, and other personal information.
If a recruiter or hiring manager asks you to pay for something up front, e.g., to have your resume reviewed, to conduct a credit report, or to purchase software/office equipment, be wary. If you are asked to cash a check or wire money, don’t do it. You could be getting involved in a money laundering scheme.
What Else to Watch for:
- Job Postings on Social Media – Scam jobs can be sent out on Twitter, or posted to Facebook, or LinkedIn. Even legitimate pages may share a bogus job. Verify that the recruiter’s social media account is genuine before you click and apply. Google the recruiter or employer. If a Twitter account has fewer than 500 followers, be cautious, particularly if the employer they claim to represent is a well-known organization.
- Fake jobs on legitimate job boards – Even well-known brand name job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, or Craigslist have posted fake jobs. While the job board is legitimate, opportunities are not always vetted before being posted. Therefore, you should do your due diligence to verify an opportunity before applying.
- Bogus job boards or employer websites – A job board or website may look very professional and legit, but the main goal is to collect as much information from you as possible. These sites may require personal information such as a Social Security Number for “pre-screening” or before you can view jobs listings. They may also ask for a bank account number up front so they can deposit your paychecks (because they are often ready to hire you immediately). If a site asks for this information, stay safe and move on. There are plenty of job sites that don’t require anything view job listings.
- Fake “BBB” or “privacy seal” marks – Click any seals or logos on a website to see where they lead. If clicking takes you to an external organization’s home page, e.g., the Better Business Bureau’s homepage, it is probably a scam. If you scroll over the logo, look at what URL pops up. If it doesn’t match up, don’t click!
- Complaints – Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s Office, and Better Business Bureau to learn whether any complaints have been filed about a company. A lack of complaints doesn’t mean a business is legitimate but can help cover your bases. Perform an internet search with the name of the company and words like review, scam, or complaint as well. Look through several pages of search results.
Unfortunately, staffing companies are often targeted by scammers. It is important to note that PSI would never ask for sensitive information before conducting in-person interviews or issue any form of payment before work was completed. If you have any questions or concerns about an opportunity that appears to be with PSI, please contact our office at 614-454-6488. To search current job opportunities managed by PSI, go to http://jobs.psi92.com/ or submit your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.