How to Spot Job Scams: 11 Red Flags
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
Roughly 200,000 Veterans transition out of the military each year, and many begin civilian life by searching for a new job. The advent of websites like Craigslist or Indeed has made the job search process much more efficient; however, it has also made it much easier for scammers to take advantage of those looking for work. We suggest learning how to spot job scams now so that when the time comes, you can be confident you’re applying for (and hopefully being offered) a legitimate job with a legitimate company.
Online Job Scams
Job scams prey on those desperately seeking work. In 2020 our country saw the highest unemployment rates in nearly a decade, so it’s no surprise that scammers had a field day. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), 14 million jobseekers reported that they were victims of a scam last year. Losses totaled over $2 billion with an average loss of about $1,000 per individual.
Over half of victims stated that they pursued the job because it offered the opportunity to work from home. About a quarter of them were enticed by the higher-than-average salary advertised. And nearly 10% were drawn to the job’s flexible work hours.
How to Spot Job Scams
Here are 11 signs of a job scam to be aware of.
Job Posting and Initial Contact
There are several commonalities among online job search scams. Be aware of these during the initial stages of your search.
They Contacted You
According to the BBB, 80% of job scam victims reported that the scammer initiated contact, usually via email or a message on a job posting site such as Indeed.
Some positions are more likely to be job scams than others. Be wary of job postings with “work from home” in the title. Additionally, postings for package reshipment and secret shoppers have a high probability of being some sort of scam.
Note: What’s worse, most package reshipment jobs don’t just aim to scam you out of your money, but will also involve you in criminal acts that scam others as well.
Unexpectedly High Compensation
Compare the salary of similar jobs within reputable companies. (Glassdoor is a great place to start with this research.) If the job in question seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of job postings that include phrases like quick money, unlimited earning potential, or work from home.
Emails riddled with spelling or grammatical errors are one red flag. Communication solely via text might be another. A request to conduct your interview via online chat is a huge indicator of a job interview scam and should send you running in the other direction.
Generic Email Domains
Job postings with contact information that includes Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or other non-specific email domains could be a scam.
There are also a couple of commonalities among employment scams to be aware of after you interview. It’s important to understand how to identify fake job offers because once you’ve accepted the job, it’s much easier for scammers to take advantage.
On the Spot Offers
While on-the-spot offers do happen from time to time, they aren’t the norm, especially for entry-level jobs. Even if you feel you’ve had a successful interview, an immediate attempt to hire might indicate you’ve been caught up in one of the many job offer scams out there. Do a little bit more research before accepting.
Reputable employers know that accepting a new job is a big decision that should not be made lightly. Take pause if you’re being pressured to accept a job without the opportunity to fully consider it.
Major Red Flags
Run the other way if:
You’re required to spend money at the outset. Employers should not require new employees to pay for computer software, a certification course, a credit check, or anything else before starting their new job.
You are asked to provide personal information prior to receiving a job offer in writing. This is such an easy way for scammers to collect all the details needed to steal your identity. Don’t do it!
Your new employer asks you to deposit a check before starting work. Compensation via direct deposit is common these days, but you should never be asked to deposit a check as means of verifying your bank account information.
How to Avoid Job Scams
In addition to heeding the advice above, veterans can avoid job scams by taking advantage of many of the career and employment benefits provided by the VA. Chapter 31 offers support and service tracks to help disabled veterans identify their ideal career path and maintain employment. Chapter 36 offers personalized career planning and guidance.
Visit the VA Careers and Employment page for information about additional benefits offered to Veterans as they begin careers as civilians.
Report Job Scams
If you fall victim to or spot a job scam, immediately report it to the BBB.