Employment scams use enticing, hard-to-detect approaches to target people who’ve been out of work. Fraudsters know people are most vulnerable when they’re desperate or scared, and they may use crises and pressure tactics to prey on their victims.
Some scammers take a slow approach with interviews and a legitimate-seeming operation to collect personal information. Other scams promise guaranteed or easy income — if you purchase their program or buy equipment or training. In a twist on the popular overpayment scam, a fake employer sends a large paycheck and asks you to send the “extra” back.
On its Consumer Advice site, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gives some helpful tips on company verifications and job offer validity. As a job seeker, familiarize yourself with these four ways to figure out if your new job offer is a scam and how to avoid fake offers:
1. Research Your Potential Employer
Verify any job posting you find online. Ideally, you should check company websites to verify third-party job posting boards. If a listing you found on a third-party site isn’t on the company site, you should by cautious applying for and accepting any job.
It’s common sense to take what you find on the internet with a grain of salt, but the FTC recommends searching your prospective employer along with trigger words like “scam,” “review” or “complaint.” You may find out if your validity concerns were real from people who have been burned before.
2. Never Pay To Get a Job
It should go without saying, but job promises for payments are scams. When you are looking for a job, you shouldn’t have to pay your potential employer. They might say they need you to cover upfront supplies, like a computer or phone, which you receive later or get reimbursed for.
If you were tricked into sending money, no matter how you paid — debit card, credit card, bank or wire transfer, gift card or cash reload card — contact the company you used to send the money and ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. You’ll also want to report the fraud to the FTC immediately.
3. Beware of “Fake Check” Scams
In a fake check scam, a hiring company asks you to deposit a check, usually for more than you are “owed,” then send some of the money back to them or another person. The fraudsters always have a good story to explain why you can’t keep all the money.
Checks themselves come in many forms. They might look like business or personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders or a check delivered electronically. These scams work because fake checks generally look just like real checks, even to bank employees. And fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled.
In general, be on the lookout for recruiters asking for money or bank information before hire. You should never need to provide anything more than a resume until you are hired or enter some sort of contract, so keep your Social Security number and personal identification information safe.
4. Be Skeptical of Company Testimonials
You can also check testimonials and the recruiter’s profile to verify legitimacy. But be skeptical! Scammers are deceitful, but they want to look as convincing and “official” as possible. Therefore, many will build online profiles, including phony company character testimonials.
In this age of online hiring and remote work, much of the hiring process is done without meeting face-to-face. Always verify if the employer is real or legitimate to avoid job scams. Once you’ve authenticated an employer, you can submit your name for consideration. But be diligent; dream jobs exist, but if something sounds too good to be true, it’s because it often is.
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