With millions of Americans out of work due to COVID-19, the job market has never been busier. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic. The Better Business Bureau has reported 13,000 job-listing scams in North America since December.
Educating yourself on how to differentiate legitimate job opportunities from scams will help you from becoming a victim of fraud. Before starting any job application, take a moment to evaluate the legitimacy. Remember, your application contains sensitive information including your name, address, current employer, and possibly your Social Security Number. Here are some red flags to look for that may indicate a job is a scam, not your dream job, and what to do if you have suspicions about the job post:
Few details listed on the job posting. Real job postings often include lots of details, such as the skills the qualified individual needs to have, and the specific job duties. If the job falls short on listing their requirements, and repeatedly mentions the flexible nature of the work, this is a red flag. Key words in scam job postings include things such as, “work-at-home”, “quick money”, and “unlimited earning potential.” Legitimate jobs are more likely to mention “remote work” or “telecommute job”.
Hiring Time. Scam jobs typically use phrases like “immediate hire”, but the legitimate hiring process takes time. Although the pandemic may increase the hiring needs for companies, hiring still takes time, and you should question a job listing’s intense urgency.
High pay for easy work. Does a job post sound too good to be true? It probably is. Take a step back and analyze the job description. Is an organization realistically going to offer you easy work, a completely flexible schedule, and higher pay? The answer is probably not. If you’re unsure what to salary to expect use resources such as Glassdoor to see salary ranges for your position and required experience.
Online reputation. Before applying for any opportunity listed online, search the name of the company and “scam.” If it is a bogus job you’ll quickly find web-based complaints.
Upfront cash. Real jobs pay YOU. Not the other way around. You should not have to pay to get paid. If a job poster is asking you for money in advance to get the position, they’re likely crooks. Scam jobs typically ask for your personal and banking information before the official hiring paperwork.
Unprofessional communication. Pay close attention to the job posting, and any email communication you receive from the company. Multiple exclamation marks, misspellings, and grammatical errors are a red flag. Scam jobs will also usually perform online interviews, and if you do get emails, carefully check the address. A legitimate job will never hire someone without at least a phone or video conference interview.
If a job you are applying for has some of these red flags, pause the application process, and do your research. Most importantly, follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If it’s a business you haven’t heard of before, look them up on the Better Business Bureau, and request a video interview from the person contacting you. At this point, a scammer will typically back off.
Lastly, if you do encounter any scams, you can report them through the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.
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