Job Scams: How to Recognize the Signs Before You Get Burned

Job Scams: How to Recognize the Signs Before You Get Burned


With so many Americans out of work and the future of the economy uncertain, people are desperate. And there’s nothing that scammers and con artists love more than desperate people. Not only have scammers hit the unemployment system hard with fake claims, but they’re also preying on job seekers.

Job search scams can range from basic to elaborate and time-consuming. On the extreme end of the spectrum, criminals might pose as recruiters or even prospective employers. They reach out to job seekers on social media–especially LinkedIn–or through email addresses that they’ve bought in bulk.

The scammers go through the motions of “hiring” a candidate. All along the way, they are pulling as much personal information from you as they can. Think about what you offer your employer during onboarding. These criminals could easily get not just your name and address, but also your Social Security number and banking information.

It’s a terribly cruel con, to make someone think that they’d just landed the job of their dreams. Luckily, there are some warning signs that something isn’t quite right.

Contacting You Out of the Blue

While recruiters and “headhunters” do look for candidates on social media, you should proceed with caution. Research the person to see if have an established presence.

If you’re interested, follow-up using contact information you found independently rather than replying to their initial method. Scammers can get very clever about spoofing websites, email addresses, and even phone numbers.

Rushing the Process

We all know that job hunting is a long, laborious process. If a supposed employer is trying to push you into making a decision, it’s not a great sign. While urgent vacancies may sometimes arise, be wary of anything that makes you feel forced into acting quickly.

Scammers use the same tactics to pressure you into making a bad choice regardless of whether they’re selling junk bonds or phishing for personal information with a fake job ad.

Too Good to Be True

I hate to break it to you, but you probably can’t make $10,000/week working from home with zero experience. Sorry!

Scammers will often try to bait their traps with higher-than-average pay and unbelievable benefits. If you know that your industry pays $30 an hour and they’re offering $50, that’s not a good sign.

Keeping It Vague

Another red flag is a vague or confusing job description. Look for descriptions written in poor or broken English–those are usually scams. However, jobs that have essentially no requirements are also very suspicious.

Almost every job will require some kind of education or experience. A lack of those requirements means that the scammers are trying to cast their nets as wide as possible.

You Never See Anyone Face-to-Face

Obviously, things are a little different right now because of the pandemic. Very few companies are bringing in candidates for interviews, preferring to do business over Zoom. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if you can’t meet your future employer in person.

However, if you request a quick video chat before signing paperwork, don’t be surprised if the scammers ghost you. They can’t afford to let you see their faces, and they’d rather cut their losses now than try to keep running the con on you.