Unfortunately, the answer is often “Yes.”
Here are a few warning signs that a job ad might be a scam:
- There is no company name listed in the ad.
- The company is found nowhere online when you search for them.
- The company is not listed on Glassdoor.
- Do a search for the company name and the word fraud. See what pops up.
- The company asks you to send them money to get the job.
- They ask for your social security number, bank account, PIN, PayPal, or credit card information while you are still deciding whether you are interested.
- They offer you a job without ever communicating with you. A quick email or instant message is not communication. A phone call or an in-person meeting should take place.
- They promise you extremely high pay for almost no work.
- They send you unprofessional emails. The job ads should be professionally written with no spelling or grammar mistakes.
- The ad does not say exactly what you will be doing. The job is very vague.
- If they mention the phrase “wire transfer,” run!
If it sounds too good to be true; it probably is.
Possible Examples of Scam Job Ads
These are actual job ad listings in the Sacramento, California area on Craigslist. These ads do not state the company or the job description. They use inflated language like ‘endless opportunities’ and ‘top talent.’ There are an unusual amount of exclamation points and odd capitalization. While both of these ads may be legitimate, please use caution when applying to ads that look like this. Know what warning signs to look for.
Here are a few ways you can identify a legitimate job ad:
- The company name is stated.
- The job duties and expectations are clearly listed.
- Contact information is obvious – often a phone number, email address or website.
- Do an online search. A legitimate company will have an online presence.
- Search for the company on the Better Business Bureau. A legitimate company will be listed.
- Look them up on Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a wonderful resource for job seekers. You can read reviews from past and current employees of that particular company and even see what type of interview questions the employer might ask.
- Take part in online chat room and forum discussions. For example, in the insurance industry, many people discuss the pros and cons of the different insurance employment opportunities.
- Call the company directly and speak to a live person. In addition to calling the number in the ad, you may want to look the company up online and call the main number listed on the website. This is a great way to catch scammers trying to ‘piggyback’ off large company names but not actually be affiliated with the large company.
NOTE: Keep in mind, if the job ad is legitimate, some of the online bad reviews may have been written by someone who works for the competition or someone who did not understand the job expectations. Or overly positive reviews that claim the company is the best in the world and contains multiple exclamation points may have been written by someone who works for the company. Follow the advice of our other article on reviews and focus on reviews that tend to fall in the middle. Reviews that are not extremely positive or negative are more trustworthy and will give you a more balanced opinion of the company.
If you do spot a scam, or are a victim of one, report it!
Have you identified or been the victim of a job scam? Report it! Report the company to the FCC for a full investigation so no one else falls victim to the same scam.
Consider reporting the scam to the company where the job was first posted. Maybe they will blacklist that job poster.
Still Want More Information on Job Scams?
This article by Alison Doyle is an excellent resource. She has included detailed examples of each of the points mentioned above.
The FTC has put together a wonderful resource covering almost all job scam types. Make sure to visit their site and carefully read the details to keep yourself safe!
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.