How to Avoid Fake Job Listings and Employment Scams
Fake job or employment scams are a way for scammers to access a job seeker's personal information, money, bank account, or credit card data. Unfortunately, since the coronavirus pandemic hit, these employment scams, including fake job listings, have been on the rise as millions of people look to re-enter the workforce.
If you aren't familiar with employment scams, here's how they work:
Scammers post fake job listings at actual companies on popular job boards—the same platforms that many legitimate employers use—and deceive victims into believing they're being hired. They promise a job, but they're really after is money, personal information, or both.
Criminals will conduct fake interviews with applicants, then request personal information and/or money as part of the employment process. They leverage their position as "employers" to persuade victims to provide them with personally identifiable information (PII), send them money, or purchase computer equipment for which the "hiring company" promises reimbursement.
The bottom line: Whether you're a business looking to hire new talent or a hopeful candidate looking for a new job, you need to be aware of these tactics to protect yourself and/or your business.
Red flags of job scams to look out for
Online job scams come in many forms, and job seekers should always be vigilant as the risks of fraud can be high. Here are some indicators that your new "job" may be part of an employment scam:
- The job interview was conducted via text or email only, not in person or over a secure video conference
- You were contacted from a personal email address like Yahoo or Gmail versus a valid company email
- As part of your employee onboarding, you were asked to purchase start-up equipment (such as a cell phone or laptop) from a company—for which you are told you will be reimbursed later
- A potential employer sends an employment contract for signature that also requires you to provide personal information such as driver's license number, social security number, banking account information, etc.
- The job posting is not posted on the company website, only on job boards
How to avoid an employment scam
If in-person contact isn't possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, especially if the company has a directory against which to compare employee photos. To further ensure your personal information doesn't fall into the wrong hands, remember to:
- Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer
- Never bank on a "cleared" check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send part of the money or buy gift cards with it. This is a fake check scam where the check will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the amount of the phony check.
- Never provide credit card information to an employer
- Never provide bank account information to employers without verifying their identity
- Never accept job offers that ask you to use your bank account to transfer your money—a legitimate company won't ask you to do this
What to do if you've been targeted
If you believe you or your business has been a victim of an employment scam, the following actions can be taken:
- Report the activity to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov; you can also report it to your state attorney general
- Report the activity to the website in which the job posting was listed
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent