When it comes to doing anything on the Internet, there are certain precautions users should take in order to protect themselves. But when it comes to applying for a job, jobseekers are safe, right? Wrong!
Job scams are a real threat to jobseekers, but what do they look like and how can jobseekers spot the difference between a real and fake job?
According to job search expert, Allison Doyle, “There are as many scams as real job openings online – sometimes it seems like more.” Doyle adds that it can often be difficult to tell the difference between a real job and a scam, but if you thoroughly research a company before applying, you reduce the risk of getting scammed.
What Is a Job Scam?
“There are many online job scams that take advantage of job seekers in a variety of ways,” says Doyle. “Scammers have several purposes, depending on the scam – to collect confidential information to use for identity theft, to get you to cash fraudulent checks or to wire or send money, and to get you to pay for services or supplies.”
Job scams can mostly be found via career sites, like CareerBuilder, but they’re also prevalent on Craigslist, job forums, and social media sites, like Facebook. Doyle adds that sometimes job scams can be sent unsolicited, via e-mail. If this happens, DO NOT click on any links in the e-mail before thoroughly researching the company and/or the person who sent the e-mail—otherwise you risk getting a virus or becoming part of a larger phishing scam.
Types of Job Scams
Just like identity theft scams, there are numerous job scams to be aware of. Some of these scams include the list highlighted below.
Bait and switch scams. Candidates apply for a job and are selected for an interview. During the interview, the company informs the candidate that the position he or she applied for doesn’t exist and then the company tries to interest the candidate in a different position.
Credit report scams. Usually, this scam occurs once a candidate has applied for a job. The “employer” will then e-mail the candidate asking to see a copy of his or her credit report as part of the hiring process. According to Doyle, “The employer requests that you use a specific ‘free’ service that ends up costing you money. However, the employer isn’t a legitimate employer and you may end up paying for a credit report.” This type of scam can also result in having the candidate’s identity stolen.
Direct deposit scams. Similar to credit report scams, direct deposit scams involve having the candidate give out his or her bank account information via e-mail after the “employer” has offered the candidate a position. Doyle says these scams are often posted on Craigslist and other job boards or sent via e-mail and are especially common among work-from-home and telecommuting positions.
Recruiting scams. According to Doyle, scammers will pose as recruiters and contact candidates claiming they have clients with positions the candidate is qualified for, but the “recruiter” will then inform the candidate that the client currently doesn’t have any open positions. The scammer will then encourage the candidate to take “training sessions,” the client offers, to “enhance” his or her standings when a position opens. Unfortunately for the candidate, these “training sessions” usually cost money, and once the candidate has paid for them, the scammer will ghost him or her.
Fake job application scams. Scammers will e-mail candidates asking them to complete a job application online. The link to the application will take the candidate to a website where he or she will fill out all the necessary info, and then the scammer will use that info to steal the candidate’s identity.
Fake résumé builder scams. Similar to fake job applications scams, fake résumé builder scams involve a candidate using a third-party website to create a more appealing résumé. The candidate will fill out all the required fields—and usually, there is a fee to pay for the final product—and the scammer will then have access to the candidate’s information, and possibly his or her credit card information as well.
Trial employment scam. According to Doyle, a candidate is told that he or she was selected as one of two people to go through a 3-week trial-employment period. The name of the company and the website seem legitimate, but the scammer will ask the applicant to fill out a contract with personal information including his or her Social Security number. And you guessed it, once the scammer has this information, it will be used to steal the candidate’s identity.
How to Avoid a Scam
Usually, when things sound too good to be true, they end up being a scam. In order to avoid being scammed, Doyle suggests Googling the company name followed by the word “scam” or “rip-off” to see if the company is legitimate, or if other jobseekers have previously posted about the scamming company.
Again, jobseekers should thoroughly research the company before applying. This way he or she isn’t giving out personal information to the wrong person. “Visit the company’s website and if they don’t have one or it doesn’t have contact information, consider that a warning sign,” says Doyle.
With all the potential threats awaiting jobseekers, companies would be wise to make sure their career sites are up to date with the most relevant content and contact information. If your company currently doesn’t offer a career site or jobs page, consider creating one now. Otherwise, candidates may view your site as illegitimate and won’t be tempted to apply.