Watch Out for Cybercriminals Looking to Scam Eager Online Job Seekers With Empty Promises
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Watch Out for Cybercriminals Looking to Scam Eager Online Job Seekers With Empty Promises

job seekers should be wary about providing sensitive personal information online and should never pay upfront money to get a job

July 8, 2020

Job search websites can be a great tool for finding a job. With a lot of Americans currently out of work, finding a reliable job is now very crucial. But not every job opportunity posted online is legitimate. Scammers, who know that people are eager to work, use their criminal skills to scam unsuspecting victims of the little money they have left. Do you know how to spot an online job search scam?

online job scam basics

The crooks behind these types of scams know that many people are out of work and need a job in order to provide a steady, reliable income. In order to steal your money and personal information, the scammers lure you in with promises of good pay and/or benefits. The only thing you have to do is complete the application and possibly pay an application fee or for job-related training up front. But once the scammers get your information and money, they disappear.

The posts look legitimate

These scammers use real company names or real government agency names very often, which makes them look at first to be legitimate. So it can be difficult to know which postings are real and which postings are not real. It's a great idea to look into the official websites of the companies listed in the post. You can also call a known good number for the business to check to see if any positions are open. Don't use the web address or phone number in the ad, which will go to the scammers if the job is a scam. Some scammers will even copy a legitimate company's job posting and simply change the phone number or website. So even if you see a company is hiring, you could be applying to the scammers instead.

Watch for quick responses and no interview hires

When you respond to a fake online job ad, you'll usually get a very quick reply (less than an hour). Most companies don't work this quickly. What's more, the 'hiring managers' that respond to you will often offer you a job without even having you sit for any kind of interview. That's your first sign of a scam. No reputable company will give you a job without at least conducting a basic interview. You should always be careful when the procedure for getting a job it seems a little suspicious. You may be a great person, but companies aren't likely to hire you on the spot and especially without an interview.

Run for the hills if you're asked for money

If a company tries to charge you for anything as part of the employment process, stop dealing with them immediately. Legitimate companies won't charge you for background checks, direct deposit authorizations, or other services supposedly related to the job. They won't ask for money upfront, even if they promise to reimburse it later as a sign that you are genuinely interested in the job. What's more, a company will not send you a check, which they later claim was for too large of an amount, before asking you to send the difference back (before their check bounces).

Gift cards are a red flag

If anyone is asking you to pay money via a prepaid debit card or gift card, you're dealing with a scam. No legitimate company or government agency will ever ask for a payment this way. So if someone is asking you to pay by prepaid debit card or a gift card, stop what you are doing and don't respond anymore. Once you give a prepaid debit card or gift card number to a scammer, it's gone forever and there's no way to get it back. The same goes for wire transfers.

Your Sensitive Info is valuable

Protect your personal information. Job scammers may ask for your Social Security Number (SSN), saying they need it to run a background check. Don't provide your SSN to a potential employer until or unless you've checked out the company thoroughly and know the job is legitimate. Never agree to email your SSN or other sensitive personal information. Email is not a secure way to share any kind of sensitive information.

Suspicious Emails

A twist on these scams involves receiving an email from the supposed company directing you to a website or to download a file. In order to view the website or document properly, you may need to install a piece of software. But this software is just malware or spyware. Scammers hope that if they don't hook your sensitive information or money with the primary scam that they can harvest these things from your computer without your knowledge.