In its latest report, the U.S. Labor Department found there are nearly two job openings for every unemployed American. But that doesn’t count the thousands of fake jobs scammers offer their victims every day.
With fake job offers, scammers hope to steal both money and personal information. As we close out National Consumer Protection Week, here are some ways to tell real jobs from fake job scams.
When considering a job posting, be sensitive to red flags – things that just don’t seem right. They can include email addresses from Gmail or other personal email accounts not affiliated with a company.
Fake job offers may include a much higher salary than similar jobs pay. As you read the posting, look for misspelled words and grammatical mistakes.
Legitimate employers will ask for sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information, but only after you are pretty far along in the hiring process. When a job poster seeks that information up front, they’re probably a scammer.
Credible online presence
Scammers can be good at presenting a credible online presence. They may set up an onboard portal, where they ask for all kinds of information. They may even agree to a virtual job interview instead of emailed questions. That means job applicants need to remain cautious and alert.
If the job offer is from a company you have heard of, that doesn’t mean it’s real. Scammers often pose as large, well-known firms.
Instead of applying by clicking on a link in the job posting, contact the company directly by finding its real website. Companies with job openings normally post them on their website as well as using job boards.
Never heard of the company? Then search its name with the word “scam” or “fraud.” You may find warnings from others who have been targeted.
Not so fast
If a company makes the hiring decision too quickly, that can be another sign of a scam. That’s especially true if they follow up with unreasonable requests, such as asking the applicant to pay for equipment or sending the applicant a large check to deposit in their bank account, using it to buy supplies, and returning what’s left.
In every case, the check is a clever counterfeit that isn’t discovered by the bank until a week or so later. At that time, the bank will demand that you replace the money you have withdrawn.
Just because the job posting appears on a legitimate site doesn’t mean it’s real. Most job sites don’t vet every job posting. Unfortunately, it’s up to the applicant to identify the bad actors. And there are plenty of them.
Consumer advocates estimate 14 million people are targeted by fake job scams each year. Losses are estimated to approach $2 billion.