How to Avoid Job Scams

Scammers are more than willing to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers. Here’s how you can avoid some of the most common scams and rip-offs in today’s job marketplace.


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You’ve been working like a dog to find a new job, looking everywhere from classified ads to online job boards, hoping to spot you next big career opportunity. But unfortunately, fraudsters have been doing the same thing, looking for ways to lure in job seekers with offers that sound like a dream come true.

Online job boards and other resources are a particularly attractive target for scammers because they provide both opportunities and anonymity. In many cases, they offer jobs that supposedly allow you to earn thousands a month from the comfort of your home – no experience necessary. What they don’t tell you is that they – not you – will be making the money from the arrangement.

“Earnest people looking to make an honest living are often preyed upon by sophisticated scammers luring them in with ‘easy money’ offers,” said Shelley Bernhardt, Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union, a leader in global payment services. “But there are warning signs that can help people steer clear of employment scams, like claims of guaranteed employment and having to pay up-front fees.”

Job Scam Patterns

According to Bernhardt, job scams generally follow a handful of patterns:

  1. EMPLOYERS. “Scammers pose as a new ’employer’ and send victims a check to cover up-front expenses, like supplies. Victims deposit the check, buy the necessary supplies and wire any remaining funds back to the scammer. Weeks later, they find out the checks are fake and they’re on the hook for the entire amount.”
  2. RECRUITERS. “Scammers pose as ‘recruiters’ pitching offers of guaranteed employment or as ’employers’ extending job offers on the condition that victims pay up-front for things like credit checks or application or recruitment fees. Victims pay, but job offers never materialize.”
  3. COMPANY REPS. “Scammers pose as ‘company’ representatives and seek sensitive personal and/or financial information from victims under the guise of doing credit or background checks. They target victims later on for identity theft.”

 Avoiding Job Scams

Western Union offers the following tips to help job seekers avoid becoming victims of employment scams.

  • Too-good-to-be-true offers usually are. If someone offers big money, but doesn’t require experience, it’s a good sign that you’re about to be ripped off.
  • If an employer requires you to pay money upfront, be very careful! If it’s a real job, the employer should be paying you – not the other way around.
  • Don’t send money from a deposited check until the check actually clears. Check with your bank to make sure the check has truly cleared before taking any action.
  • Generic email addresses, poorly written communications and other red flags can be an indication that you’re dealing with an offshore fraudster rather than an actual employer.
  • Do your research. Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s Office, and the Better Business Bureau to see if the company you’re dealing with has any complaints filed.

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