Applying for jobs? The FTC says you should be on the lookout for scams

Photo (c) Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

The agency says to beware of red flags when going on a job hunt

With 4.1 million people graduating from college in 2022, there’s going to be a lot of activity on the job front. Many people may want to work for a bigger or more well-established company, while others may want to check out sectors with higher demand.

Either way, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says those who are on the hunt for their first post-college job should be careful because not every posting or job recruiter is legitimate. 

Learn how to spot the scams

The FTC warns graduates that they should do the following three things to protect themselves from employment scams:

Do an online search. Get online and look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You may be safe if those searches don't turn up anything sinister, but finding posts from others about being scammed should be a big red flag.

Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer you received to friends, parents, and even friends of parents who might have some hiring experience and ask them what they think. You don’t want to be rushed into a decision.

Don't pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers – including the federal government – will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer, plain and simple.

Promises made, promises kept?

There are also considerations job applicants should take into account when they’re offered a job – especially if there are verbal promises made that are not written down.

While oral employment contracts are enforceable, written agreements are much easier to enforce and not subject to certain limitations that are imposed on oral agreements. For example, written contracts have a four-year statute of limitations in California while oral contracts only have a two-year statute of limitations.

Then there’s something called the “statute of frauds,” which may kick in for certain oral agreements. 

“Many states also recognize that a verbal statement by an employer, such as ‘you'll be here as long as your sales are above budget,’ may create a binding contract of employment,” says FindLaw. "However, the enforceability of such verbal agreements is limited by the statute of frauds which provides that an oral agreement that cannot be carried out in less than one year is invalid."

Someone who is eager to begin their career may not want to push to get their job promises in writing, but it may be tough to prove that a promise was made in the long run if a problem arises down the road.

“Indeed, employees or job candidates should try to document important representations made to them in a follow-up letter, especially if the employer has not provided details in writing,” said Don D. Sessions, an employee rights attorney. “You should spell out in writing the representations made to you, and ask your employer to comply.”

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