How to Spot and Report Job Scams

SargesList is proud to offer this information courtesy of Jessica Howington with FlexJobs.

FlexJobsWhile growth of the Internet and technical knowledge has allowed for a job search to be conducted from the comfort of ones home, it has also opened a Pandora’s Box of potential job scams. One of the most vulnerable times in a person’s life tends to be unemployment and unfortunately, there are scammers out there that feed on that vulnerability.

During a job search, it is important to protect yourself and your information. Understanding how job scams work and knowing how to avoid them are helpful in providing an extra layer of protection. Sometimes, however, the scams are truly hard to spot, which makes knowing the process of reporting a scam essential to protecting your personal and valuable information.

Below are five tips each for spotting job scams, avoiding job scams, and reporting job scams.

Spotting Scams:

  • Generic Description and Bad Grammar:¬†Thoroughly read and inspect the job descriptions before applying. If the description is vague, does not include required experience, doesn‚Äôt provide some sort of list of responsibilities, is riddled with poor grammar, and omits a job title, you could be looking at a scam.
  • Instant Message Interviews and Texting:¬†Texting or IM based interviews are a clear sign of a scam. Ideally, you will interview in person, on the phone, or through video conferencing software.
  • Immediate and Limited Hiring:¬†This is used to create a sense of urgency. If they only have ten openings and they must be filled within two hours, it is probably because they want you to throw caution to the wind and your personal information in their hands.
  • Paying for a Job:¬†There is a big difference between paying for a¬†job search service¬†and paying to have a job. Using services to find a job is okay, so long as they provide you with a valuable service and make your job search easier. However, if you have to pay money to get a job interview, buy job-related equipment, have special training, or other miscellaneous fees, you may have found a scam.
  • Too Good to be True and The Gut Feeling:¬†Intuition and our physical body are pretty good at sending up warning signals–we just need to recognize and acknowledge them. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, if something just seems odd or not right, go with your instincts. It‚Äôs better to be safe than sorry when it comes to job scams.

Avoiding Scams

  • Make Contact:¬†Call the company, email them, and if you have the ability to go to their location, do so. Make contact directly with those doing the hiring.
  • Verify Information:¬†This goes beyond seeing a URL and a legit looking webpage. Double-check your contact info to what is listed online or in a phone book. Verify that the email address you are corresponding with ends with a company name, not an @aol.com, @yahoo.com, or @gmail.com.
  • Do Your Research:¬†Whenever you apply for a job, it is good habit to research the company as well as the job listing. Not only does this help educate you about a potential job, but it can also help in avoiding scams since you will know what the company is about and can ask questions during the interview process as another way to verify legitimacy.
  • Don‚Äôt Give Out Personal Information:¬†If there is one piece of information to remember and take away, it is this. Do not give out personal information during the application or interview process. If you get hired, you will have to provide personal information, however, at that point you should have done the research and verified the information to know that you are dealing with a legit company. Be very aware if they ask prior to hiring.
  • Be Patient:¬†When you need a job, desperation easily takes over. When you lose focus on your search, you can also become complacent, which will open the door to more scams filtering through. Stick with your plan, target your job search, and utilize professional (and real!) services to help you find a job.

Reporting Scams

  • Place a Credit Alert:¬†Call all three of the credit agencies and have them place an alert on your name so that you can avoid any future and potential fall back if you have been scammed.
  • Change/Contact Accounts:¬†If you gave out any personal information, make contact with all open accounts. Let the companies know the issue and change any information and passwords available.
  • Contact the “Hiring” Company:¬†Sometimes, scams come in the form of disguise. If you find a scam where an individual is using a real company name to trick people, contact the company. They will be able to put a message on their site or send it out so that others will not be fooled.
  • File a Complaint:¬†There are several places to file complaints about businesses or scams. The three biggest agencies to file a complaint with are the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Each of these organizations reviews cases and in some situations can provide further support.
  • Report to Google:¬†Google has several tools to help protect against scams, including their “Report Phishing Page,” which can help in tracking and eliminating scams.

These tips serve as a starting point for protecting your information during a job search. Safeguarding your personal information and taking preventative steps can help keep your job search scam free. However, if you are scammed, remember to move quickly to protect your information and identity.

Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a researcher and Team Lead for the writing team for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities through finding and verifying legitimate flexible positions. She provides job search information, tips, and insight into the employment world related all job seekers through theFlexJobs Blog. 

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