wikiHow to Avoid Job Search Scams

Scams, it seems, exist everywhere, and even an earnest job hunt may bring you in contact with a few. Be on your guard and know what to look for, so you can get yourself a real job and keep your money, personal information, and sanity.

Steps

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    Read up on the most common job scams, so you will recognize them if you come across any. Look for patterns, not just names.[1] Some common job scams are:
    • Reshipping - Victims are offered bogus contracts and other documentation to gain trust. Packages are shipped to their home to be shipped elsewhere by the victim. The packages often contain stolen goods.
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    • Envelope Stuffing - The victim pays a "registration fee" then is told to post an ad similar to the one the victim responded to in order to gain more "registration fees".
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    • Medical Billing - The victim is asked to pay a fee in order to do the work.
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    Be on the lookout for signs that the job is too good to be true. Is the salary in line with the going rate for comparable work in your area? Is it advertising that you can work from home or some other attractive perk? If so, look for, or ask about, good reasons that the pay is higher: does the job include some special duty or require qualifications that might warrant higher pay, or is it just bait?
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    Question overly vague or generic job listings. Many job listings require that a candidate be over the age of 18, and that's nothing new, but a real job listing should also list qualifications and job duties that describe the job itself. Generic job listings may be an attempt to draw in as many prospective targets as possible.
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    Never send money in order to get a job. Never send bank or credit card information, either. Either request should be a red flag that something is wrong. You should not have to pay for software, a credit check, a resume tune-up, job information, or anything else in order to get a job. You should not be asked to open or change a bank account.
    • Legitimate employers will often even pay your travel expenses if they ask you to travel out of your area for the interview.
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    • Legitimate employers, if they require anything to do with a bank account, will ask for a voided check in order to set up direct deposit. This is standard, and it should happen in the first couple of weeks of working there. You should never need to open a bank account, transfer funds, or send money during a job application process.
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    Cross-check job board postings against the company website, or phone the company directly.
    • Most companies, especially larger ones, will have job openings posted through their own websites. In the U.S., all government jobs are publicly posted, as well.[2] If you find listings on job boards, look for the original. Sometimes scammers use big company names to draw people's attention.
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    • Ask if a company is really hiring through a particular recruitment or placement firm, too.
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    Check up on any recruiters and placement firms you are considering. Does the service cost anything? If so, how much? Is there any refund if the process is unsuccessful? Remember that many recruiters are paid when they successfully find and hire a candidate into a client company. If a firm is asking a job hunting candidate to pay, why?
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    If they contacted you, ask how they found your name, and make sure their explanation adds up. If they found you on Linkedin, check their profile there.
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    Check that the email address matches the company's website. If you're applying at Acme, you should see email from an @acme.com or similar address, not from a personal email account.[3]
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    Beware of unprofessional emails and texts. Look for bad grammar and poor English. Real recruiters and companies may occasionally send typos, but be on the lookout for communications riddled with misspellings, poor punctuation and English grammar.
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    Get it in writing. If you are offered a job, ask to receive the offer in writing, including the salary, before you begin working. A firm which is hiring you legitimately will not hesitate to supply a written offer, and it will protect you if you are not paid.
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    Expect to see an employment contract soon. You may begin working before all the paperwork is finalized. Benefits, especially, may not take effect right away, but you can generally expect to see an employment contract during your first couple of days at work. If you are promised benefits and don't see applications for them within the first week or so, ask.
    • You are not a volunteer but an employee. Even if your work begins with training or with a provisional or trial period, you should still be paid for that time.
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    Report scams and scammers. If you spot a questionable post on a job board, report it or flag it on the job board. If you are taken in by a scammer, you can report it to the FTC (in the US).[4]
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    You should ask yourself these questions:
    • Does it sound too good to be true? Does the pay and benefits sound great and work sound easy?
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    • Are you offered an interview via instant messenger? Yahoo instant messenger is very popular among scammers, so be especially cautious if any part of the process involves Yahoo instant messenger.
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    • Do communiques use a personal email address? If any non-company email addresses are involved in the search process, it is probably a scam..
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    Watch for broad or vague job requirements. To seem legitimate the scammer may list job requirements and qualifications that are broad and vague and that almost anyone can meet.

Tips

  • Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, either leave it be or investigate thoroughly.
  • Be conscientious, skeptical, and patient. Scammers often prey on people who are insecure, unwary, and desperate. Even if you are looking for a job because you urgently need money, take the time to question and thoroughly examine every job ad.
  • Have a friend look at likely job postings with you, especially ask their opinion on anything you find questionable. You'll have someone to talk with about the job application process, and to keep your spirits up, and you'll have an independent person (someone who is not biased by your financial situation or emotions) to help you keep on the right track.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it's probably a scam.

Warnings

  • Avoid job listings with words like "package forwarding," "reshipping," "money transfers," "wiring funds" and "foreign agent agreements." They are all red flags.[5]

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