According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is down — but job scams are on the rise. Hospitality, transportation, and warehousing industries are especially seeing a boost in employment. This is great news for many Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, many employees resigned from their positions during the pandemic for various reasons. Some cited the push to return to the office as one reason, while others just wanted to switch careers. As a result, news and media outlets began reporting on the Great Resignation, a trend of employees quitting their jobs in search of something better.

Scams On The Rise

Now that so many people are trying to find jobs, job scams are on the rise. Scammers from all over the world dedicate themselves to fooling innocent job seekers. And these aren’t your average Russian hackers. There are a number of actual companies that hire employees to trick people into giving up their money.

The Dangers Of Job Scams

Also, scammers aren’t just after sweet old ladies anymore. They’ve opened their target demographic to include pretty much anyone who will take their bait. Although it may seem counterproductive for a scammer to try to steal money from people trying to find a job, money isn’t the only thing on their minds. They can also retrieve personal information such as your social security number to steal your identity. Or hack into your laptop or computer to use the information they find against you.

Now more than ever, it’s important to be safe while searching for a job. The last thing any job seeker wants is to be scammed out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they don’t have the means to pay for it. Here are seven common job scams, including ways to protect yourself if you come across one:

Recruiting Websites

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Many people underestimate the lengths a scammer will go to fool their victims. Some even go as far as creating entire websites to recruit people looking for employment. Unfortunately, these fake recruitment websites can be tricky to spot because, a lot of the time, they look legit.

Fake recruitment websites tend to request personal information such as your social security number or banking information. They explain this away by telling you the reason for the request is for pre-screening or to issue a direct deposit once you begin work.

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If you come across one of these websites, don’t input any of your personal information into its requested fields. Even information like your phone number or home address can be sold to other scammers who may bombard you with phone calls and other solicitations.

Software Downloads

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Interviews for remote positions are typically conducted through free video conferencing software such as Google Meet or Zoom. But scammers may ask you to purchase a different software to set up a video conference for an interview. Be careful when this happens because it’s likely a scam.

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Downloading the software could expose you to viruses that corrupt your device and give the scammer access to your personal information.

Quickly remove yourself from the conversation when a scammer asks you to purchase unfamiliar software as part of the interview process. You should never spend money as part of the interview process. Any company that asks you to do that is probably not a real company.

Fake Interviews

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Another common job scam is faking job interviews. These interviews may be conducted over text or other messaging platforms. They often seem legitimate, with the scammer asking you a series of questions related to the position. You may even move on to a second or third interview with multiple “employees.”

After completing the interview, the scammer will typically offer you the job without hesitation. They may then inform you that they’ll send you a check to purchase equipment to perform the job.

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When this happens, cease all communication with the fake interviewer. Part of the scam is to have you purchase the equipment with their forged check. When the check eventually bounces, you will be left on the hook for the money while the scammer is nowhere to be found.

If you receive an interview request from a company, look closely at the company email or text message. Legitimate companies typically hold interviews in person or over a video conference. If your interviewer refuses to speak with you, it might be cause for concern.

Job Board Listings

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Finding a job is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. Many employers use job boards to scout potential employees who respond to job postings. Unfortunately, scammers often do the same.

These job listings span a number of industries and positions, including high-level roles in tech or finance. But when an applicant responds to the listing, the scammer has access to their contact information. This information can be used to proceed with a fake interview or sold to other scammers for profit.

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Take a close look at the job posting before you apply to it. If you find misspelled words or grammar errors, it’s most likely a scam. Also, if the job description or requirements seem vague, reconsider applying.

Get Rich Quick Schemes

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Everyone wants to become rich, but that requires a lot of time and effort that many aren’t able to commit to. Unfortunately, scammers recognize this and move accordingly.

There are many fake job ads that feature ways to make money immediately. They often guarantee that you’ll earn a high income in a short amount of time. These get-rich-quick schemes are common, but they’re avoidable.

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Before you apply for the job, consider how the posting is worded. Scammers often use phrases like “fast money” or “make money now” to create a sense of urgency. This is a ploy to get as many people to apply as possible so that they have access to you and your personal information. Remember that if the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Suspicious Job Opportunities

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Getting hired for a high-paying position at a great company can seem like a dream. But when it comes to job scams, dream jobs aren’t so hard to come by. Scammers often create job postings on reputable job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, or CareerBuilder. These postings typically advertise job positions with competitive pay, full benefits, and a flexible or remote schedule.

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If you look closely, many of these postings can provide you with enough information to recognize that it’s a scam. Take precaution if you can’t find the company or contact information of the person who posted the job opportunity. Also, check for spelling and grammar errors in the text, which is another common red flag that you could be entertaining a fake posting.

Job Offers

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Waiting to hear back from a potential employee after a job interview can be stressful. You may be excited to finally receive a job offer, which is certainly cause for celebration. But many scammers fool people into thinking they’ve secured a job when really, it’s just a way for them to let their guard down.

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A common sign that a job offer is fake is that you receive an immediate offer even without an interview. Still, some scammers will stage interviews to earn your trust. Fortunately, there are other ways to spot a fraudulent job offer. Some of them include:

  • A lack of professionalism when communicating
  • The scammer uses an email address with a public domain such as “yahoo.com” or “gmail.com
  • You can’t find the company online or anywhere else
  • You’re asked to provide personal and confidential information before being hired
  • The scammer’s email domain name is abbreviated or spelled incorrectly
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