Job hunting in 2024 has its fair share of risks and perks—you have the convenience of finding job openings online mixed in with the possibility of encountering a variety of scam jobs.

Vigilance and careful scrutiny are a must if you want to land a legitimate and decently paying work opportunity.

Otherwise, you might end up falling victim to multiple fraudulent job ads or putting your credibility on the line by your mere association with employment scams.

The growing number of online fraud cases these days is indeed alarming, but we believe that learning about these scams is one of the best ways to counter them.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of scam jobs and how you can protect yourself from shady job advertisements online!

Key Takeaways

  • Job scams are rampant these days. The most common of which include fake job ads, work from home and government jobs, postal fraud, fake job placements, and phishing emails.
  • You can often recognize a scam job because it usually contains ambiguous information, suspicious links, and strangely high salary offers. False recruiters also request for payment or confidential applicant information.
  • Look for the company’s website or social media account and find reviews about the business. Do not reply to an email or a job pitch if you have not sent in your application.
  • In case you’ve fallen victim to employment scams, report it immediately to the proper authorities.

Job Scams Examples

Perhaps the scariest part about job scams is how they can imitate real and legitimate job offers. Let’s take a look at some of the most common examples of scam jobs.

#1. Fake Job Ads

A fake job ad is a purely made-up, non-existent employment offer.

The following are the tell-tale signs of a fake job ad:

  • Job offers are too good to be true. If you see anything along the lines of ‘Earn $1500-$2000 Per Day: No Previous Experience Needed!,” consider it a red flag. It is unlikely for companies to match entry-level work with such a high price offer upfront.
  • Ambiguous requirements and company information. A real job ad should give you an idea of what the vacancy is like, including the company’s expectations. There must also be a website or a social media page where you can learn more about the company or agency.
  • Typos and unprofessional-looking ads. Recruiters know very well that job advertisements are an extension of the company’s branding and image. False ads often contain informal fonts, spelling mistakes, and grammatically incorrect sentences.

#2. Work From Home Jobs

Following the sudden boom in work-from-home opportunities post-COVID, fraudsters have begun exploiting the convenient setup of working remotely to collect job seekers’ personal information.

Be wary of fake job text messages and work-from-home recruitment pitches claiming that all you need is your mobile phone to earn thousands of dollars a day. Some tricksters also post false remote job ads on social media, particularly on Facebook.

Fake work-from-home job offers are among the most common scam jobs on ZipRecruiter and other trusted job search sites.

#3. Government Jobs

Government job scams involve an offer to secure a position in a government office or agency in exchange for a set fee. In most cases, people who used to work in staffing agencies and placement firms repost outdated job vacancies.

They even go as far as to forge official letters and signatures of government agencies and post scam jobs on Upwork. Scammers do this to entice unsuspecting job seekers. Since the employment opportunity is posted on a trusted and popular freelancing platform, it is easier for fraudsters to earn the applicant’s trust.

#4. Job Placements

Not all scam jobs are advertisements. Some take the form of scammers pretending to be agencies offering job placement assistance.

Unlike honest placement experts with the genuine intention to help, fake ones will charge you upfront just so you can access their seminars or have a full view of their so-called job interview tips.

#5. Postal Frauds

One of the longest-standing scams involves false job openings in the US Postal Service (USPS). The USPS constantly has part-time and full-time openings for multiple positions, making it a favorite and easy ‘model’ for scammers to mimic.

Some of these job openings range from mail carriers and handlers to postal clerks, sales and service associates, and drivers and mechanics.

Once an interested job seeker accepts the offer, scammers will immediately charge money in exchange for access to study materials or tests that are said to ‘assess’ the applicant’s aptitude for the job.

Remember, the USPS only posts job openings and available positions on their official website.

#6. Job Offer Via Email

If you’ve ever received any unsolicited job offers via email, it is probably a scammer’s attempt to phish your personal information.

The rule of thumb is this: recruiters will almost never reach out to you first. That is, unless you’ve already sent an application letter or an inquiry expressing interest in the position.

What if you are a freelancer who self-promotes their services? That would also mean you have provided your contact information in your ads; thus, recruiters and even scammers may go ahead and initiate an email message.

You can pinpoint a fake job offer email by checking the sender’s email address. Legitimate businesses provide their staff with corporate email accounts, while false ones often use Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo Mail.

You are also likely to spot grammatical errors and misspelled words within the body of the email.

Finally, the sender does not address you by your first name. This is odd since hiring personnel would have gone through each applicant’s resume and credentials first before communicating with them.

How to Recognize Job Scams

scam jobs

It’s awful to get scammed while looking for work. Not only does it waste your time and resources, but it also puts your identity and safety at risk.

Below are some of the key indicators that will help you spot scam jobs in an instant:

  • The job posts contain suspicious URLs and links. Real business websites have simple and easy to remember URLs that also align with their brand name. The presence of any lengthy links with random character combinations should be enough to raise your doubts about the validity of a job post.
  • The company has zero online presence. It is rare for any company or recruitment agency to not have a website or any social media page for that matter. Most legitimate recruiters have a Linkedin account or a Facebook page where they share information about their services and their brand.
  • They offer extremely high salaries. Is the salary offer too good to be true? When the job ad requires minimum work in exchange for a high pay grade, don’t fall for it. The chances are you will either end up doing more work than what was promised or be paid a meager salary that isn’t even close to what was specified in the ad.
  • The recruiter requests payment or asks you to wire money. Recruiters will not demand payment or ask you to wire money into their personal bank accounts in exchange for getting the job. In fact, it is usually the hiring company or the recruiter who will pay the applicant, particularly when they require a trial task as part of evaluating the applicant’s aptness for the job.
  • They solicit personal or confidential information. Companies will not ask for any other information besides the details you have provided in your resume. Meanwhile, scammers will try to phish sensitive information such as your bank account, Social Security Number, or credit card information.
  • They process your application through chat apps. Real recruiters communicate with you and process your application through email and conduct interviews either in person or via video call. It is highly unprofessional for hiring specialists to request your credentials via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
  • They hire you instantly. Every talent scout follows a series of elaborate steps in the hiring process. On the other hand, scammers will try to push you into accepting the job offer as soon as possible despite not properly evaluating your qualifications.
  • No interview or any particular experience needed. Job interviews are an integral part of the entire hiring process because they give recruiters a chance to learn more about your professional experience and fitness for the position. Even entry-level jobs require basic and relevant experience and skills.

How to Avoid Job Scams

nervous woman in front of her laptop

Aside from knowing the surefire signs that point to a false and suspicious job advertisement, let’s examine some additional actions you can take if you suspect that a job opportunity could be a potential scam.

Conduct Extensive Company Research

The first thing you need to confirm is whether the company exists or not. Do a little digging and try to find out as much as you can about the company. Google the business name and check social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

The business website should have a secure web address. If the company has a social media page, then it should have posts showcasing their products, services, and possibly the type of company culture the company has.

Try to Find Employees

LinkedIn’s setup as a business networking center and career-building hotspot does not spare it from fraudulent schemes. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported that job scams dramatically increased in number following the onset of the pandemic.

Scam jobs on LinkedIn are examples of these deceptive ploys, and so it is important to verify the profiles of the recruiters who initiate conversations with you via social networking platforms.

Contact the company indicated as the hiring specialist’s employer on their profile. Several victims of employment scams have found that the company’s or employee’s accounts have been hacked.

You can also check whether the recruiter is still employed by the company they are representing or not.

Look for Reviews

If the company has a Google Business Profile (GMB), that is often a good sign that they are authentic and trustworthy. Verified GMB profiles showcase a company’s updated office address, contact details, website, and a concise summary of what they do.

You will also find reviews and ratings from previous customers, as well as any company responses to customer feedback. Bing Local, Yelp, Citysearch, and Merchant Circle are other trusted websites where you can find authentic business reviews.

Don’t Entertain if You Did Not Apply

Resist the urge to reply to job pitches sent to you via email or chat, no matter how enticing. Even more so if you have not sent an application to the recruiter and it is your first time encountering the business.

These are scammers attempting to phish for your information. They may also try to convince you to send samples of your work, which they will then claim as their own and use for their personal benefit.

Listen to Your Gut

At times, your instincts will pick up on inconsistencies and questionable details about the job offer before you can even consciously notice them.

Do you somehow feel something’s off about the job opportunity? Is the employment process beginning to feel too fast-paced and suspicious? Has the hiring personnel you are talking to left any unsettling impressions on you? If so, trust what your gut is telling you.

What to do if You Get Scammed

Let’s say you find yourself on the receiving end of any of the different scam jobs listed above.

Before you scold yourself for believing these scams, focus instead on the following steps you can take as a countermeasure:

  • Contact your bank. If you sent or wired money using your account, it is best to inform your bank service provider immediately. Call the bank’s customer support hotline and let them know you mistakenly sent money to a scammer through your account.
  • Update your contact information. Change your email address and mobile number to stop receiving emails and text messages from fraudsters. Block their email address and contact details from your mailing or contact list.
  • Report the phishing page to Google. Doing so prompts the search engine giant to investigate the website, update their database of suspicious and harmful links, and ultimately keep their users protected.
  • Reach out to the company’s human resource department. Some human resource personnel might be pretending to be representing a legitimate company. Look for the company’s contact information and ask them to verify whether the individual who pitched a job offer to you is still associated with them or not.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to differentiate scam jobs from genuine ones, you are better equipped and protected against fraudsters lurking on job-hunting websites. Remember, awareness of these scam jobs is the first and best weapon to stop them from victimizing more job seekers.

Better yet, you can share this helpful guide with your friends and loved ones so that they too will know what to avoid and how to deal with scammers and fake recruiters.

Good luck with your job hunting!