How to Avoid Getting Scammed During Your Job Search

resume header image

Improve Your Resume or CV

Nowadays, most people search for jobs online. This is an extremely convenient way to find employment, especially if you’re looking for a remote position, but it also increases your risk of getting scammed. 

Scammers know that many job seekers are desperate to find work, and they use that to their advantage. Posing as employers, they trick unwitting job seekers into divulging their bank information and other personal details. Before you find yourself in that predicament, let our career coaches help you decide if the job ad that’s caught your eye is legitimate. 

Here are a few tips on how to avoid getting scammed, some warning signs, and what to do if you’ve fallen victim to fraud.

Avoiding a scam

  • Never accept a direct deposit from a potential employer. Many times, a scammer will ask for your bank account number to make a direct deposit. While this might sound legitimate, they are only trying to get your bank information to wipe your account clean. Legitimate employers generally don’t need your banking details, and they will make direct deposit an option, never a requirement.
  • Never give your credit card number to a potential employer. If a potential employer asks you for your credit card number, report them immediately. No prospective employer will ever ask for this information: They don’t need your credit card number to pay you.
  • Never transfer money to an employer. Under no circumstance should an employer request money from you so that you can work for them. Any job where you have to pay for your own training is also highly suspect.
  • Never respond to suspicious job emails. You may receive multiple emails about job offers that seem too good to be true. Unless you’ve signed up for a service that sends you such notifications, any job offer email you receive is likely to be a scam. If it sounds unbelievably good, it’s definitely a scam.

As you interact with potential employers, stay vigilant. Avoid scams by carefully thinking through any requests they make and being on the lookout for warning signs in their messages.

Warning signs

  • Using a personal email address. Any time you converse with a potential employer, they should be using a professional email address that has their company name as the domain. If they’re using a Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail address, you can safely assume it’s a scam. Some fraudsters create fake domains to fool unsuspecting job seekers, so look carefully at the end of the email address to make sure nothing is misspelled and it matches the domain used by everyone else at the company.
  • Receiving or being asked to send money. If you randomly receive a large amount of money from a potential employer, it’s a clear warning sign. You should question the transfer and never accept it. Also, an employer should never require you to send money to get the job. If they demand that you pay them anything, even if it’s allegedly for training or another legitimate-sounding purpose, just walk away. 
  • Skipping the hiring process. If a recruiter contacts you immediately after you send in your resume, it’s almost certainly a scam. Most companies, especially large and medium-sized ones, have a multi-level resume review process, including an applicant tracking system (ATS) that filters out resumes deemed irrelevant. You may receive an automated email that confirms receipt of your resume, which is entirely legitimate, but if you get an actual response immediately, be on guard. Also, if they offer you a job without interviewing you for the position, don’t accept it.  No company nowadays onboards a new employee without a job interview.
  • Posting a vague or error-ridden job ad. Grammatical errors, especially glaring ones, in the job description are immediate red flags. Scammers often intentionally make grammatical errors to lure more gullible targets. You may also find a job opening that has a wide salary range, such as $20,000–$50,000, which is far too wide for a legitimate position. Also, if there are no job responsibilities listed or they don’t seem to fit the position, don’t pursue the opening. 
  • Claiming to be a traditional job but hiring you as an independent contractor. Double-check the type of contract you are signing. If the employer claims to be a traditional company hiring you as an employee but offers you an independent contractor position, it’s a scam.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if a potential employer does anything that feels off, trust your instincts. Don’t let the dream of a perfect-sounding job lead you into a trap. 

What if you believe you’ve been scammed?

  • Verify the employer’s contact information. You can do this by typing their email address into a search engine to see if it’s associated with an actual company or is a copycat email address. It may look right but be missing a letter from the legitimate domain.
  • Contact the site you applied from. Unfortunately, job boards come with a fair number of scammers. If you feel that you’ve been scammed (or that someone is currently trying to scam you), report them immediately to the site so their job postings can be removed and their account blocked.
  • Contact the police. If you’re a victim of a job scam, contact the police so they can investigate the situation and take appropriate measures to apprehend the scammer. However, there’s usually not a lot the police can do either to catch the perpetrator or recoup your losses.
  • Contact your bank. If your bank account has been affected, contact your bank or credit card company so they can freeze your account and work to get your money back.

Even if you think you’d never fall victim to fraud, some scammers are pretty savvy, and when you’re desperate for a job, your guard is down. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of a job, contact our career coaches for help.

Improve Your Resume or CV