Every email user will have received countless messages promising unlikely amounts of money in return for very little work. By now, most people are experienced enough to avoid falling for these overt scams, but unfortunately, the fraudsters behind them don’t limit their activities to highly unbelievable emails.
Online job boards are increasingly the target of these unscrupulous people. By preying on job-searchers’ desires to improve their employment, they hope to extract enough sensitive information to carry out identity fraud, or even worse, to convince a victim to part with money during a fake recruitment process. What should you look out for when browsing job ads to ensure you avoid these scams?
Do Your Research First
Once a job posting has caught your eye, take the time to carry out some essential research before going any further. Any legitimate advert should provide contact information of some sort, giving you a starting point to enter into your favorite search engine. See if the company name returns any matches, paying close attention to the exact spelling in the job ad. If the company appears to be unknown, this isn’t necessarily a sign of a scam. However, it’s certainly enough to give you pause for thought, and you should probably consider delving a little deeper.
Check for Known Scammers
Also search on the listed email addresses, telephone numbers, or contact names to see if these return results pointing to a known scam operation. There’s no guarantee, but many fraudsters lazily use the same details over and over, and their reputation may very well precede them.
Quality of the Ad
Does the job posting look professional? An ad which is packed with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or plain odd wording should set off serious alarm bells. Many job scams are posted by overseas fraudsters who have a poor command of English, while a reputable company will take great care over all their public communications.
Examine the Email Address
The internet has been around more than long enough for any serious business to have their own branded email address. If the contact is using Gmail, Yahoo, or another free service as their email provider, this should raise a huge red flag.
Also look at the domain in the email address – that is, the part after the ‘@’ sign. Enter this into your web browser, paying careful attention to the spelling, and see if there’s a real website at that address. If not, there may indeed be a valid explanation, but send an email asking for a working site address. Don’t be fobbed off with any lame excuses if the contact can’t provide one.
Overly Easy Application Process
While online jobs boards may make your job search easier, there’s little reason to expect a dream job to simply fall into your lap. If the advertisement promises a quick start with no face-to-face interview, then be wary. Depending on the position, it’s possible that a preliminary telephone interview may be appropriate, but be extremely cautious if an interview is either not required at all or will be carried out over a messenger service such as Skype or Yahoo.
Vague Job Description
If the posting doesn’t go into much depth about your supposed duties and responsibilities, then be very suspicious. A good recruiter uses clear details to weed out unsuitable applications from the outset, so a lack of information suggests they’re casting their nets widely rather than genuinely looking for the right candidate.
Likewise, if an apparently well-paid job isn’t asking for any particular qualifications or experience, ask yourself why they’re advertising the position – they could surely fill it with ease without going to all that trouble.
Unrealistic Payment Promises
Of course, with any new job you’ll be hoping for a welcome increase in pay. However, if a posting promises a surprisingly high wage or salary, then tread carefully. Most employers will wish to discuss recompense in some depth before making the final hiring decision, and will generally advertise a low figure and take it from there.
On a similar note, if you’re promised that you can earn a fortune while working at home, think twice (at least). While home-working and flexible hours are attractive benefits in a job, they’re not usually the main features of a legitimate recruitment advertisement.
Use of Hurrying Tactics
One last warning sign in a job ad is when the wording suggests this is a time-limited opportunity, and you need to hurry or risk missing out. A sensible employer waits for the right employee – if you’re being rushed into a decision, it’s likely an attempt to distract you from seeing the job ad in its true light.
Things to Watch Out for When Taking the Next Step
Even if the job ad passes all these tests, there are a few more points to bear in mind after making contact and starting the application process.
– Never agree to pay any money upfront, whether this is described to you as a membership fee, an administration charge, or simply a necessary but lucrative investment.
– Be extremely wary if you’re told you’ll be given an initial payment before you’ve actually done any work. This is most likely a ploy to obtain your bank details with fraudulent intent.
– No reputable company will ask you for sensitive information such as your social security number before there’s a contract in place. If you’re told that these details are required as part of your application, then it’s probably sensible to walk away.
Securing new employment is often a difficult and lengthy process, but don’t let this blind you to the dangers of being scammed. If a job advertisement sets off too many of these alarm bells, then proceed very carefully indeed. Landing that dream job is a wonderful feeling, but being taken for a ride is anything but.