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How To Spot Online Job Scams (And Tips To Avoid Them)

Hot to spot online job scams (and tips to avoid them)Americans lost more than $163 million in the first half of 2022 due to fake business and job opportunities, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The median loss was almost $2,000. How do you spot a potential job scam, and what steps can you take to avoid them?

4 Ways To Spot A Fraudulent Job Opportunity

The following are four signs a job posting may be fraudulent, as well as tips to help you avoid getting scammed.

1. The sender uses a personal email address.

One of the quickest ways to spot a scam job opportunity is the sender’s email address. Fraudsters will often email stressed job seekers pretending they are a company recruiter or hiring manager with an open role. However, upon closer scrutiny, they are using a free email account (example: @yahoo.com) rather than a company one (example: @linkedin.com). Thankfully, this red flag is simple to spot and avoid — just verify that all inbound emails are from a legitimate company email address.

2. You are asked to pay out of pocket — for anything.

Another common sign you may be dealing with a fake job is that the potential employer asks you to pay for something. This may look like a request for you to purchase a personality assessment, background check, or office equipment. As an employee, you should never have to pay to work. Simply put, if a prospective employer wants your money, it’s a scam. Never pay to be considered for a role. This includes never sending a potential employer gift cards or prepaid debit cards.

3. The potential employer requests unnecessary banking information.

Speaking of which, be sure to keep your bank details and finances secure. Wendi Weiner, attorney, career expert, and founder of The Writing Guru, explains that “if a company asks for money up front, wants personal or confidential information (such as your driver’s license, social security number, or bank account information), or asks you to create an email account (and the outreach is from a suspicious email), do not provide it.” If you are asked for this type of information, she advises that you “report it to the BBB, FTC, or your state attorney general.”

4. The job offer sounds too good to be true.

Lastly, if a career opportunity sounds too good to be true, it might be. While it is incredibly exciting to receive a job offer, always perform a gut check before accepting a new role. Ask yourself if the title and salary make sense for someone with your background and experience. This is especially important if they make vague claims or verbal promises but fail to put them in a written offer letter.

You must conduct your due diligence before accepting a job offer. Weiner explains that it’s important to “research the company to see if it truly exists.” She recommends investigating the company’s employees on Google and LinkedIn, as well as seeing how long the website domain has been in existence. “Don’t be afraid to do a deep dive and also ask well-established recruiters if they’ve heard of this company,” she adds. You can also “head over to the FTC’s website and see if there’s any bad press or rulings against the entity,” says Weiner.

Following these strategies can help you recognize and avoid a potential employment job scam. And, if you ever find yourself second-guessing an opportunity, consider running it by a trusted mentor, employment attorney, or career coach. You’ve got this!

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