Avoiding Online Job Scams in 2013

Even when the writing is on the wall, it can still be difficult to identify online job scams.

job scam online scammer work mobile app

If you have ever used Craigslist to search for a used couch, an apartment, or a job, then you are probably aware that scammers exist. When it comes to job scams specifically, con artists use a variety of tricks to manipulate innocent job seekers out of personal information.

In an effort to keep your job search secure, we are taking a look at some of today’s common online job scams, and how you can avoid falling victim to them in 2013:

Hiding in plain sight

When we first explored the realm of online job scams last October, something we did not mention is that scammers have started using the names of real companies in their fake job postings.

“The increase in employment opportunities and resulting jobs listings also opens the door to scammers high jacking the names of real companies to put out job applications geared at identity theft, not employment,” according to the BBB.

Hiding behind a real company name allows scammers to lure job seekers into a false sense of comfort. It is very common for these types of job scams to involve the exchange of personal information, including your Social Security number and bank account numbers.

Do not give out your Social Security number or bank account information in an online job application ever.

Employers do not need this information to assess your skills as a job candidate. If an “employer” is asking for personal information like your SNN before you have met in person and formally accepted a job offer, then you are most likely being scammed. And if you are “hired” without a formal interview, then you are also likely being scammed.

A little research goes a long way

The first step to avoiding job scams is to slow down. When you come across a job posting that interests you, take some time to research the company looking to hire. Do they have an official Facebook or Twitter page that you can follow? If not, then you may want to apply elsewhere.

Where is the company located? An easy way to spot a job scam is if the same company has listed a similar job opening in multiple cities outside of your state.

A lot of today’s job scams are presented as “work from home” opportunities. They typically involve payment plan systems where an unsuspecting job seeker is asked to pay a big fee up front. We recommend avoiding any job postings that ask you for money, or tempt you with an illusion of riches that can be earned for a small fee.

Keeping personal information private

One way to stay safe from online job scams is to create and maintain a separate email account for your online job applications. This way when you submit your resume, the employer will not be given an email address that can be connected to your social media or online banking accounts.

We also suggest omitting your home address from your resume. Potential employers do not need to know such specific information when considering you for a job opening. If they do, then that “employer” is probably more interested in scamming you than hiring you.

Have you come across any job scams lately? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo from Flickr, Gene Hunt

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5 comments

  1. TJ Ellis

    The “Secret Shopper” or “Mystery Shopper” is a BIG scam, they send fake checks wanting you to deposite and Money Gram the money to them. Then they access your account and you owe the bank thousands. WATCH OUT!!!!!!

  2. kat hardy

    There is a company posting an add for “Management Trainee” for a fire safety company and they want a “certification fee” upfront before you are hired….it is a scam. They have several satellite offices so they can quickly and easily take your money and run. I had a girl call me recently….ask me a series of unrelated questions about my credit and when I called her on it and said I knew it was a scam she hung up on me! They are listed for manager trainee positions in Van Nuys….. beware!!!

  3. Kevin

    This so inaccurate. EVERY position I have applied for sends you to an on line system (taleo, kennexxa, etc.) where you MUST fill out all items to proceed through the system….including SS# and more. Has this writer ever really searched and applied for a job recently?

    • Sean O'Leary

      Hey Kevin, what types of positions are you applying for that require so much information upfront? Also, what job boards/services do you use to access job postings?

  4. Elenor R

    Quite often they call it a “background check” when a ssn is requested. I tend to put in a wrong number deliberately since if they seriously want to hire me, they will call me on it. Many recruiters are starting to use online documentation to save time when you go in to sign up initially. I will omit the number or put a wrong number since they are required to check your documents in person anyway. Another good resource on businesses is Glassdoor.com to research the perspective company you’re applying for. One would think that unless someone is actually planning to hire you, they’re not going to waste their time. In any and all cases, better safe than sorry and guard your identity!