10 Common Job Search Scams

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Job search scams are unfortunately a reality of today’s employment market — but you can stay safe with a little effort and diligence.

Flexible jobs website FlexJobs.com released a list of common job search scams that the uninformed job seeker could fall victim to if they’re not careful.

While these types of schemes can take many forms, in this article I’ll focus on some of the most prevalent job search scams and the signs you should look for.

I’ll also get some advice from money expert Clark Howard, who is always on the lookout for ways crooks try to steal your money.

Watch Out for These Job Search Scams

A lot of times, you can sniff out a work-from-home job search scam by remembering one adage that applies to many situations: “If it seems too good to be true…”

Here are some major red flags that may signal that a job may be a scam:

  • The recruiter is overly eager to get you to accept the job offer.
  • You are asked to provide your Social Security number and other sensitive information early on in the process.
  • The job requires you to pay a fee or other expenses upfront.

And Clark cautions against getting caught up in recruitment schemes.

“If the big push is about recruiting other people into an organization, if that’s where all the money is made, then it will tend toward being a pyramid,” Clark says. “On the other hand, if the real money is made selling products or services to those not involved in the organization, then it is likely a legitimate multi-level marketing organization.”

When it comes to job search scams, here are the ones you’re most likely to run across while looking for remote work.

10 Common Work-at-Home Job Search Scams

1. AI-Generated Jobs and Companies

Artificial intelligence can be used to create bogus job postings, fake companies and more.

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If something seems sketchy, go to the company’s official website and find the job posting online there.

2. Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Ponzi Schemes

Clark says if a job or investment opportunity seems too good to be true – it likely isn’t.

If you hear promises of “huge returns” or “other people’s money,” be on scam alert. “Utilize verified resources to invest financially,” FlexJobs says.

3. Posing As a Legitimate Job Board or Company

Crooks have made a habit of copying legitimate companies online and on social media, all to hook unsuspecting job seekers.

“Research the company across social media and the web to verify emails, websites, people who work for the company, as well as other points of contact,” it says on FlexJobs’ website.

4. Using Fake URLs, Photos and Company Names

During a job search, few seeking employment stay vigilant about scams. One thing you need to check out is the company’s web address online.

“Scammers will try to recreate the legitimate company’s website by slightly altering the web address,” it says on FlexJobs. “If you’re not looking closely, you may not realize that you’re on a scam website. For example, a real company website might have the address, companyname.com. But when you’re looking at the fake website, the address is company-name.com. It’s a subtle change, but it could indicate you’re not on the company’s real website.”

5. Gaining Access To Personal Financial Information

In the early stages of interacting with a potential employer, it’s typical to share some basic information about yourself with a recruiter or hiring manager – but there’s a limit.

“It is true that before you start a job, you need to give your employer your Social Security number,” it says on FlexJobs. “And since most companies pay salaries via direct deposit, you will eventually need to share your banking information too. However, if a company is asking you for this information early (like asking for your Social Security number on a job application, or wanting your banking information before they can offer you the job), the job is likely a scam.”

6. Recruiting Through Social Media & Chat

Social media is a major communication tool for companies and brands, but when it comes to reaching out to potential employees, not so much. 

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Not that it doesn’t happen, but be wary of a company that reaches out to you via messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp to conduct “job interviews.”

“If you are approached through chat, be sure to request that they give you a call, and do your research before interviewing to see if the results yield any red flags,” it says on FlexJobs.

7. Lacking Verifiable Information

There may come a time when you stumble upon the perfect job listing, but can’t find much or any information on the company. Where is their headquarters? Who runs the company? Where’s their website?

If you can’t find basic information like a phone number, web address, employees on LinkedIn – your scam alert should be going off.

“In this day and age, real companies will have an online presence and some social media engagement—if they don’t have a decent following, they may not be legitimate,” FlexJobs ays.

8. Phishing

Phishing is a way for criminals to collect your personal information by trying to get you to click on text messages and emails. Once you fall victim, you could expose your bank account information, passwords and more, including opening yourself up to identity theft.

“Always reach out to an employer directly through their legitimate website, rather than respond to any ‘phishy’-looking communication,” FlexJobs says.

9. Google Doc: Inviting or Mentioning

According to FlexJobs, a relatively new job scam involves crooks sending you an invitation to a Google Doc. Another tactic is to mention you in a Google Doc.

“However, pay close attention to the email used to send the doc, as well as any links that may be included,” FlexJobs says. “These scams will typically provide a link for you to click on to ‘start earning now.’”

10. Paying for Remote Work Equipment

It’s typical for remote employers to require certain equipment as a condition for the job.

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“Many scammers will ask job seekers to send money for equipment needed to perform the job and state that they’ll be reimbursed in their first paycheck,” FlexJobs says.

Read the full report from FlexJobs.com.

FlexJobs is a job search website that focuses on identifying legitimate job postings, but it’s not free. The service has several membership options to choose from starting at $2.94 for a 14-day trial or $5.95 for a 4-week trial. After your trial ends, your membership will automatically renew at $23.95, billed every four weeks. However, you can cancel your membership at any time.

Additionally, if you want a year’s worth of access to FlexJobs, you can pay $71.40 when you sign up.

If you are interested in any of the jobs on this list, try visiting the specific company’s job site directly or read this article from Team Clark before you sign up for FlexJobs.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of jobs out there, but there are also a lot of job search scams out there. If you see a job posting that interests you, but you’re not familiar with the company, do your due diligence by looking them up.

Try to find out as much as you can about the job and the employer before you take the time to apply.

Looking for more tips to stay safe? Here are five ways to spot fake work-from-home jobs.

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