Fight against hiring fraud and safeguard your personal information by abiding by online best practices and taking proper security measures.
Hiring fraud is unfortunately on the rise, with scammers taking advantage of hopeful job seekers. The Better Business Bureau recently reported that employment scams are skyrocketing, with “a growing number of victims losing money and sometimes facing legal issues as a result of the increasingly common fraud scheme.”
Scammers pose as recruiters or hiring managers offering you a job, but in reality, they just want your personal information and money.
While on the job hunt, it’s important to remain vigilant in the fight against fraud. By being aware of online best practices, you can safeguard your identity and protect yourself from recruiting fraud.
Common Job Scams
There are a variety of popular hiring scams sweeping the internet. Be on the lookout to stay safe during your job search. Research companies and roles before applying to an ad or responding to a recruiter’s email. Popular job scams include:
- Fraudulent job listings: Scammers post fake job listings on social media, Craigslist, and job boards. Be wary of listings that request an application fee from candidates, are riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes, or have suspiciously vague job requirements.
- Work-from-home scams: A lot of remote job scams offer suspiciously high pay and claim that you don’t need experience to earn big bucks—all from the comfort of your home. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudulent work-from-home roles often involve tasks like filling out surveys, answering phone calls, reading messages, or testing products.
- Pyramid schemes: Steer clear of schemes that promise an extravagant future lifestyle with uncapped earning potential if you sell a certain number of products. Unfortunately, your income will be based on new people you recruit, not how many products you sell. You’ll likely be encouraged to purchase products at regular intervals, even if you already have excess inventory. The Federal Trade Commission warns, “Eventually, most distributors can’t sell enough inventory or recruit enough people to make money. They also can’t keep up with required fees or the inventory purchases…and they can’t earn enough money to cover their expenses. Most people run out of money, have to quit, and lose everything they invested.”
- Fake checks: Some scams involve sending fraudulent checks for your services. The Federal Trade Commission states, “They’ll tell you to deposit the check, keep part of the money…and send the rest to someone else. The check is fake and will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the full amount of the fake check, while the scammer keeps the real money you sent them.” According to the Better Business Bureau, the most “common fraudulent job offers involving fake checks include mystery shopping or secret shopper jobs, car wrap jobs, nanny or caregiver jobs, and small business jobs such as photography or painting houses.”
- Reshipping scams: Avoid jobs that ask you to receive or ship goods across the country or overseas. They are often labelled as warehouse or shipping coordinator roles, but you are likely shipping illegally obtained goods. Not only are these roles illegitimate, but you put yourself at risk for getting charged with postal fraud.
Spot Red Flags
Scammers posing as employment agencies, recruiters, hiring managers, and staffing firms utilize a variety of tactics to trick people into giving up personal information and money. Keep your eyes peeled for common red flags. Reputable companies and hiring managers do not:
- Ask for banking or other financial information as part of the application process.
- Request fees or deposits during or after recruitment.
- Send you money to purchase software or equipment.
- Request your personal login and password information.
- Ask you to receive or ship packages across the U.S. or overseas.
- Require you to invest or deposit your own money before beginning an assignment.
- Conduct job interviews via text or instant chat.
- Contact you using unconventional methods, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Google Hangouts, or email addresses that come from suspicious domains. Please note, this applies only to the U.S., as companies in other countries use these apps.
Actions to Take
- Do your research. Google the name of the company or the person trying to hire you. Search the names alongside the words “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint.” Research to see if other people online say they’ve been scammed by that company or person. Scope out a recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn. Ensure they have a picture on their profile, check their job history, and read any recommendations.
- Verify websites. Avoid fraudulent job listings by verifying the company’s website and history. One sign the website is secure is if the URL begins with https, not http. You can also use the Wayback Machine to see how long a domain has been in existence.
- Check out the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker. It’s a free resource that anyone can use to report suspected scams or search the database for similar scams. The BBB estimates that the scam tracker helped users avoid losing $21 million to scammers in 2022.
- Go with your gut. If an opportunity seems fishy, listen to the internal warning bells and act accordingly. Request a video interview if you feel unsure. Recruiters can easily set up a virtual meet-and-greet so you can chat and feel more comfortable. If a person doesn't agree to a video interview, especially after you share your concerns, something is likely off.
- Take your time. No reputable company will ever pressure you to act immediately on a job interview or offer, so take time to think things through and conduct research before agreeing to anything. There’s no rush.
- Don’t take the bait. Never click on links or download documents from an unknown contact, even if they claim they’re a recruiter. Scammers frequently send emails with harmful links and malware designed to steal sensitive information such as online credentials and passwords.
- Keep your private information secure. Never give away personal information, like your bank account or Social Security number to a stranger on the phone or online. If you have even the slightest doubt about a situation, reach out to the organization through official channels, or contact the BBB.
- Apply to jobs via reputable channels. While any job board has the potential to be compromised by fraudulent listings, some websites are more secure than others. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed are all more reputable choices than Craigslist or Facebook.
Where to Report Job Scams
If you or a loved one have experienced a job scam, please report it to one of the following places:
- Better Business Bureau - BBB.org or BBB.org/scamtracker.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - reportfraud.ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-Help.
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - ic3.gov/complaint.
If you’re already lost funds to a scam, Money.com recommends that you “let the card issuer, bank, gift card or money transfer company know someone scammed you and file a fraud report if possible. Depending on the payment method and your situation, the provider may reverse or refund the charge.”
Be on the Lookout
As you continue job hunting, always stay alert to the possibility of fraud. Exercise caution, do your due diligence by thoroughly researching potential scams, use common sense, and protect your private information above all else.