Avoiding Job Scams – 4 Things You Need to Know

WorkCoachCafeJob scams are proliferating.  Desperate job seekers appear to be good targets for the human predators who do these things, so keep your antenna up and polish your scam-avoidance skills because the predators are getting better, too.  

If someone in the job posting industry food chain isn’t well-trained or paying close attention, these “opportunities” get a great deal of visibility on legitimate job boards.  Consequently, scam jobs are found on well-known – and also on obscure – job boards.  It may not be the job board’s fault that the scam job is visible, but be sure to let them know about it so they can take it down.

Occasionally, legitimate employers post “blind ads” that disguise the name of the true employer. They do this for a variety of reasons, like not letting a competitor know what part of their business is growing.  In those cases, the jobs are usually posted by an “agency” – a firm hired to provide both recruiting services and anonymity for the true employer.  But, those postings are not the majority or even 50% of job postings, so be wary of blind ads which offer no indication of the employer’s identity.

Before you click on a link, reply to an email, or apply for a job online, take the time to do some research first.  

Here are 4 things you need to know to separate the real jobs from the scams:

1.  When you Google or Bing a real employer’s name, you should find more than job postings.

Finding jobs posted by an employer you’ve never heard of is not that odd, but, if a search on the employer’s name finds only job postings, all of the jobs are probably scams, regardless of where they are posted. Real businesses do something on the web besides recruit new employees.  Even if recruiting is the business, you should find a website where the recruiting firm markets its services to employers.

If you find only job postings in a search of the Internet, the “employer” is a scam and so is the job. 

2.  Real businesses have phone numbers listed in a business phone directory.

For this check, ignore the phone number (if any) that might be in the posting.  If the business is legitimate, your local “yellow pages” business phone number directory should have the business telephone number and address for this employer.  If there is no business phone number, it is probably not a legitimate employer.  

Because they vary in quality and completeness, check a couple of the online directories like:

Even a business run out of a home should have a business phone number, and the numbers in the posting should match the numbers in the directory.  When in doubt, contact the employer with the phone number in the directory (not the one in the job posting) to confirm that the position is real, or not.

3.  The email address in the job posting should not be a Gmail, Yahoo, Rediff, AOL, or other free web-based email service.

The email address for the posting should be associated with the employer or with a legitimate recruiting firm.  If you’re not sure what the email address is, and especially if it doesn’t match the employer’s name, check it first.  

Do a search on what follows the “@” sign in the email address.  

For example, if the email address in the job posting is MJSmith@example.com, but Example Inc. is not the employer, more research is needed.  

Do NOT follow a link in the posting or reply to the email address listed.  Do your own independent research first.  Search on “Example.com” (or whatever the alleged employer’s name is) to see what you find.  If Example.com is one of the free web-based email sites, the posting is probably a scam unless you have found a business phone number (as in # 2, above) and a real website for the employer with more than job postings (as in # 1, above).

4.  Real jobs require at least some experience or skill.

Often the only “requirements” of a scam job include being over the age of 18 and having an Internet connection.

The posting may look very professional and polished, but, if being over 18 and having an Internet connection are the only requirements – unless the job has passed all of the tests above – the job is a scam.  Skip it.

Do NOT consider:

  • A job which has as the main duty receiving packages at your home, and forwarding them on to someone else.  You are probably receiving and re-shipping stolen property, which is a crime.
  • A job where you deposit checks from a business outside the USA, deduct a commission for your efforts, and then wire-transfer or electronically send the balance back to the “employer.” The original check will bounce, after you have sent the electronic payment, and you’ll be out the balance you have sent to the employer.  Ouch!

Taking the time to do the research to protect yourself from scam jobs will be time well-spent. Trust AFTER you verify that the employer and the job are legitimate.

For More on This Subject

How to Tell if a Job Listing is Fake

Can You Really Make Extra Cash in Your PJ’s

How Scam-Proof Are You? A Quiz (Job-Hunt.org)

Free eBook: Choosing a Safe Job Board (Job-Hunt.org)

Dangerous Job Search Assumptions (Job-Hunt.org)

Scams & Schemes in Work and Employment Services (RileyGuide.com)


© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

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