Layoffs are on the rise, as companies like Meta, Amazon, Tesla, and Coinbase have announced big job cuts. As more people are on the hunt for jobs, scammers are targeting job seekers.
Workers in the United States have lost over 300 million dollars to fake job scams in the past year, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and the number of people scammed has nearly tripled in the last couple of years.
There are a few common scams targeting job seekers. Here is what you should watch out for.
Be wary of recruiters reaching out to you
It’s easy to be flattered when a recruiter tells you that you’re perfect for a position, but that’s the hook many scammers will use to pull you into their scam. Legitimate recruiters will often reach out to qualified candidates, but be careful if they’re the ones who make first contact with you.
Beware if they ask for personal information
Increasingly scammers are posting fake jobs hoping that you’ll come to them. If you apply for a job and the recruiter starts asking for certain information, know what’s inappropriate. Legally, they can’t ask you about your age or race, if you’re married, or about your family… so if they ask about those, it should be a big red flag. But if you’re further along the process, and they ask for your social security number or bank account information, it’s probably a scam.
Asking for a Fee is a Red Flag
If they try to ask you for any sort of payment or fee, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate recruiting firms don’t usually charge fees to job seekers… they get paid by the hiring company for finding good candidates. Also beware if the recruiter tries to sell you additional services, such as a resume review, training, or certifications… they may have been using a fake job posting to lure you into buying something… or worse, stealing your payment information and giving you nothing.
Watch for Quick and Easy Interviews and Decisions
People who have been scammed have shared that the interview was usually quick and easy and they received job offer almost right away. When you’re eager for a new job, it’s natural to feel like you’ve impressed the interviewer and want to get started right away, but be careful about accepting a new job if you’ve never talked face-to-face with the hiring manager. If you do talk with them, get their contact information, and make sure it matches the company they say they work for.
Check for Spoofed Websites and Email Addresses
Scammers will even build websites to make a fake company look legitimate, while others will impersonate established brands. It’s gotten so bad that some companies have added scam warnings to their websites. After they tell you that you’ve been hired, they’ll even direct you to fake websites where they’ll ask for sensitive information, such as your bank account, trying to make you believe that it’s for direct depositing your paycheck.
You shouldn’t have to pay for your equipment
Similarly, they might direct you to a website to get new equipment for your job, such as a laptop or other stuff to work remotely. Even if they say they’ll reimburse you… If the company asks you to pay for your work equipment up front, it’s probably a scam.
These are just a few of the tactics scammers are increasingly using to target job seekers. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t fall for one of their scams.
Do Your Homework
Look up the company or the person who’s hiring you online. You’ll either get background information that’ll help you in the interview process, or you’ll spot the fraud. Add the words “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint” to your search and you might find out how they’ve scammed others.
Talk With People You Trust
It may be hard to spot a scam when you’re excited and eager to start a new job. That’s why talking with someone you trust can help put things in perspective. Tell them about the company, the recruiter, the interview, and the offer. They can help you tell if something’s off, or give you questions to ask before taking action.
Don’t pay for the promise of a job
You shouldn’t have to pay to get a job, and be careful not to fall for the fake check scam, where they send you a check and then ask you to send back part of the money or ask you to buy things… When the check bounces, you’re still responsible for what was spent. If anyone ever asks you to buy gift cards or send them the code from a gift card, you can be pretty sure you’re talking to a scammer. Never pay anyone with gift cards.
If you’re searching for a job, beware of scammers. Share this information with family and friends so they know what scams to watch out for when job hunting.