How many ways can you get scammed online? From spam emails to crypto cons, crooks create plenty of opportunities to get your information and commit identity fraud. One of their tricks is to pretend they want to hire you for a job.
Job seekers are particularly vulnerable to identity theft schemes. You have to give up all kinds of information about yourself before you can even get an interview. According to the FBI, scammers take advantage of people who apply for jobs by creating fake job postings to phish for personal information. The scammers then use the data they collect to commit identity fraud.
Does a job posting seem fishy to you? Your intuition may be correct. Victims have reported an increasing number of hiring scams to the FBI since 2019. According to the agency, the average reported loss was almost $3,000 per victim, in addition to damaged credit scores.
Here’s how the grift works: Criminals create spoofed websites, often with stolen graphics of company logos to make the site look legitimate, to harvest job seeker information. The scammers post links to these phishing sites on well-known job boards. Job seekers fill out forms with key information such as addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and employment history. In some cases, the scammers even contact the victims and ask them to pay upfront for background checks, job training, or supplies. Once the crooks get the money, they disappear.
Job Posting Scam Clues
- Suspicious interview tacticsIn-person interviews aren’t always an option, so video calls are the next best bet. If the employer doesn’t use a company email address or verifiable phone number to schedule and conduct a video call, that can be a red flag.
- Requests for money If the potential employer asks you to pay during any part of the hiring process, it’s probably a scam.
- Requests for credit card informationEmployers don’t need to know your credit card number to see if you’ll be an excellent employee. Avoid anyone who requests this info.
- Recruiters or hiring managers who have blank or empty profiles on job networking sites or whose profile information does not fit their rolesFor example, the recruiter for a software firm based in Chicago should not have a Malibu yoga instructor’s profile photo, description, and qualifications.
How to Keep Safe While Searching for a Job
The FBI has seven tips to help job seekers avoid phishing scams:
- Research the employer online before applying for a job to make sure the company and job are legitimate. Does the company exist? Does the recruiter or hiring manager listed on the job post work for that company? Does the job posting link to a secure web address that starts with https://? If any of the answers are no, run away!
- Verify job postings found on networking sites and job posting sites. If you found the job posting on a third-party job board such as indeed.com or LinkedIn, check whether the same job is also listed on the company’s website. Not every employer hosts its own page with job postings, but many do. If you don’t see a position listed there that you saw elsewhere, take it as one red flag and continue looking for others.
- Do not provide your bank account information until you’ve been hired. Scammers may ask for money or bank account information during the interview. A legitimate employer won’t ask for your banking details until you’ve signed a contract and are setting up direct deposit, and even then, they’ll ask to verify only the bank name, account number, and routing number or SWIFT code—but never your online banking username and password.
- Confirm the employer’s identity with an in-person interview or a video call.Do not accept a job solely through email, over the phone, or via a chat app.
- Never send money to anyone you meet online, especially via wire transfer.Again, scammers may try to get you to pay for supposed training fees or background checks. A legitimate company or employer will not make these kinds of requests.
- Do not share your Social Security number or other personal identification with third-party job search apps or networking sites.Do not enter any sensitive information into online web forms on third-party job search sites.
- If you enter your Social Security number online, make sure the site is secure. Check the web address for “https://” Only enter your information after you’ve been in contact with a human in person or via video call.
Remember, if you have doubts about the legitimacy of a job posting, take the time to research the company, recruiter, or hiring manager online. A few minutes of Googling can save you money and credit woes in the future.