Job Fraud: Five Ways to Make Sure That Online Job Offer Isn't a Scam
You wouldn't think there was a recession and that millions of people are unemployed by looking at open jobs being advertised online. The job listings are endless, and it's difficult to tell which are real and which are phishing for your personal information.
Before applying for a job online, here are five ways to check ahead of time if it's fake:
1. Too much information requested.
The website asks for your personal information, such as Social Security or driver's license number. While legitimate companies do this, it's best to avoid providing such private information so early in the application process and give it later in a direct e-mail from someone you know and trust than from a website you don't know much about. Your permission is required to do a background check, so only give out personal information to someone you know and when the application has moved on its initial stages. The worst is a company that asks for your bank account number. Don't go there.
2. Many enticements that seem too good to be true.
Casting a wider net will get phishers more responses, so they try to entice as many people as they can to their fake job offers with many terms on Craigslist or elsewhere, such as:
- "Telecommuting is OK" or "Can work from home" appeals to many people.
- Vague job titles such as customer service rep to get job seekers to click for more information.
- High hourly wages that seem too good to be true and are specific, such as $32.32 per hour.
- "No experience necessary" but a promise of high pay. When has that been true for a legitimate job?
3. Grammatical and spelling errors.
People outside of the United States whose first language isn't English often perpetrate online fraud, and common words on their websites or in e-mails will be misspelled or they'll have poor use of grammar.
4. Bad links.
If a job application doesn't pop up online within the second link, you're being sent through job applicant hell and rerouted to places you don't want to be. If you're redirected to another site, it's another chance for a virus to invade your computer, and another chance for the fake company to try to get your personal information.
Bad links could include sending you to a job membership site that asks for more information, a link to a home business or multi-level marketing opportunity, and endless links to more websites that promise you more job offers but don't deliver.
Here's an example of endless links: The Los Angeles Times has on its homepage under "Southern California Jobs" a listing for a job paying $32 an hour to work part-time from home typing orders. Clicking on that sends you to CareerBuilder.com, where the base pay is listed at $20 to $72 an hour, quite a range. Hitting "click here to apply now" takes you to a "story" in your area (I live far from Southern California, but someone named Megan Anthony is doing well with this job in my city) and again told to "Visit the Home Employment Agency website and fill out the form online and hit submit." Click on that and you get to yet another website, this one a Home Internet Jobs website that asks for your name, email address and phone number. I typed in a fake name, address and phone number, and was told that jobs were available in my area and that I could begin posting auctions on eBay for big companies. There's another link to become a listing agent, but at that point I stopped. Why the L.A. Times and other websites allow this bogus advertising is beyond me.
5. E-mail responses that don't add up.
An automated e-mail response after filing for a job online is normal. But an automatic response that asks you to send in money or personal information so the "company" can do an immediate background check is not. If someone from a foreign country asks you to handle accounts payable and receivables from home, it's a laundering scam. If you keep e-mailing the company and only get auto responses, there's not a real person at the other end and it's a scam.
Next: Seven Nasty Job Scams >>
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Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.