Fake job postings have been around for a long time, even before the Internet. But high unemployment and a trend toward digital job listings has this crime on the rise. The FBI has been collecting a high volume of fake job posting reports since 2019, including reports of an average loss of $3,000 per victim. Cyber criminals use fake websites or emails to steal personal information and compromise a person’s identity. Here are five ways to spot a fake job posting and avoid getting scammed.
1. Punctuation, Grammar, and Other Errors
When a job posting or email from a recruiter is full of punctuation and grammatical errors, strange capitalizations, misspellings, or other inconsistencies, it should be an early red flag. While not everyone is a grammar expert, the posting should come across as professional and polished.
Some errors stand out more than others as red flags. Any misspellings of the company name, key software required for the job, the job title itself, or common sites like Google and Yahoo should encourage you to not apply. The same applies to capitalization errors, like not capitalizing proper nouns or names.
2. Informal Job Description, Requirements, or Hiring Process
It’s not just the grammar and spelling that show you if a job is real. Sometimes the description and requirements of the job will be a clue. If the “requirements” are basic elements that most adult applicants would achieve, like being over 18, being a US citizen, and having internet access, the job is potentially a scam. These requirements don’t actually tell the hiring manager anything about your qualifications or work experience, a clear sign they are more concerned with getting your personal information than giving you a job.
The same applies to the description of the job. If the duties sound amazingly easy and light, especially in comparison with the salary, this is a sign the job is too good to be true, meaning it probably isn’t!
The FBI indicates that the method of the interview can also let you know if it’s a scam. If the interview isn’t conducted in-person or through secure teleconferencing like Zoom or Google, this is a red flag. The most common fraudulent interview platforms require that you use an email address versus a phone number.
3. Requests for Confidential Information
Other confidential information that can be requested as part of a fraudulent job posting includes your bank account information, credit card number, or Social Security Number. While it’s true that real jobs will collect this information from you to complete a background check or set up direct deposit, this should never be part of the preliminary application process. Some Federal or State jobs might be an exception, but in those cases, you will apply for the jobs through a secure government portal. Never send any of this information through an email or instant messenger service.
4. Fee Requirements for Applications or Training
Another sign a job is a scam is when you have to pay the company for equipment or accreditation to be considered or to begin. This could apply to everything from a license to customer service equipment, like phones or headsets. You might in fact need these things to start the job, but especially in the case of proprietary equipment, the company should provide those tools. In cases like a securities license or teaching license, this proof of education might be required, but do some research to ensure you aren’t being charged by the hiring company for something free—and that you will retain any license if the job doesn’t work out.
5. Strange Online Presence
It’s also a sign of a scam if the company’s online presence appears abnormal. First, you should find their website. If they don’t have one at all, that is a major red flag. Next, confirm the identical job posting is listed on their website. Many scammers will pretend to work for major companies and post jobs that lead to spam sites. Confirming the company actually posted the position is one way to avoid this trick. Lastly, make sure the email addresses and personal email signatures align with the information on the website as far as job title, spelling of the company name, and more.
Ultimately, spotting a fake job posting is about paying attention to the details. If anything arouses your suspicion, pay attention to your instincts. While you could have found a real job posting, consider the fact that the team hasn’t paid attention to details and it might not be a great work environment—and that’s your best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is being the victim of a crime that could lose you money, damage your credit, and compromise your identity. Carrying out these small steps of due diligence might mean you skip over a few job postings, but also it could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.