As businesses are getting back to work, many Americans are looking for employment. Job seekers should be cautious of certain employment offers and always research the job offer before applying. Here is a list of common red flags to look for while job hunting and resources to locate a legitimate job.
Job Placement Services
Some job seekers look for employment through employment agencies, staffing companies, and other placement firms. Scammers frequently pose as legitimate recruiters only to trick applicants into providing sensitive personal information or money. They may claim to have connections to dream jobs at well known companies. They even copy outdated listings from real job sites to lure in respondents. Once they have contact, they insist the job seeker pay money upfront for job opportunities. This is a clear tip-off that the offer is a scam. Legitimate placement firms do not usually charge applicants a fee. Typically, the prospective employer pays the firm to find qualified candidates.
Work from Home Offers
The pandemic has created many opportunities for job seekers to work remotely. But be careful with work-at-home offers. They tend to typically be scams. If you’re searching for work-at-home offers, beware if they ask that you pay for “training”, “starter kits”, “membership fees”, “leads”, “lists”, etc; it’s a scam. Instead of making money, you end up paying for starter kits, training, or certifications that are useless. Even if they post “success stories”, be very skeptical. It is more than likely a ploy to lure you into their job scam.
Be Your Own Boss
Job uncertainty has led many to look into starting their own business. Working for yourself can be a dream come true. However, buying into a bogus business opportunity can be a nightmare that could be difficult to recover from. Watch out for “free” online or in-person seminars promising big bucks for little to no work and no experience necessary. These offers are a tell-tale sign you’re dealing with a scammer. Promises of a lavish lifestyle, quick riches, and financial security in no time are a fairytale. The con artist convinces their victim to pay money to receive their “secret” for success, only to steal their money. Some have lost substantial funds to false business opportunity promotions.
Government and Postal Jobs
Scammers often advertise and post fake federal government or postal service jobs. If the job requires you to pay a fee to get the job, or pay for study materials so you’ll get a high score on the postal exam, it’s a scam. Federal government and U.S. Postal Service job information and applications are free. You can locate and apply for federal government jobs at USAJobs.gov and U.S. Postal Service jobs at usps.com/employment.
Social Media and Job Board Posts
Social media sites are a way for employers to get the word out on current job openings. Phony recruiters also use social media and job board sites to post bogus job offers. They create fake pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites to promote fake job opportunities. Not all job boards and social media sites vet their listings. It’s important to verify the recruiter and offer before sharing any information for the job. Only apply to offers you have thoroughly checked out.
Job Search Resources
The U.S. Department of Labor sponsored website, CareerOneStop.org, lists job offers from public and private sectors. Federal job listings can be found on USAJobs.gov. Visit USA.gov and locate your local government websites where you can search for current job openings. Check out any job listings by contacting the hiring business directly to see if the offer is authentic.
Watch for and Reporting Scams
Job seekers should keep the following in mind:
- Always be skeptical if you have to buy something or pay a fee to start working.
- Beware of "no experience necessary" ads that promise attractive profits and part-time earnings, guaranteed markets, and a demand for your handiwork.
- Don't be taken in by personal testimonials used by the promoter to convince you that the program is legitimate.
- Realize that you may be participating in a fraudulent scheme and risk investigation by promoting the same program to others.
After you’ve done some research, contact the solicitor and ask questions to determine if the” job” is a legitimate employment offer. Some questions to ask may include:
- What tasks will I need to perform on the job? Make sure they detail the duties you will be required to complete.
- Will I be paid a salary or will I work on commission?
- Who will I report to?
- Who will pay me?
- When will I get my first check?
- What do you base your earnings on? Ask for references of individuals who have earned money using their program or documents to support the likely earnings.
- What is the total cost of the program, including supplies, materials, training, and membership fees? What will I get for my money and how can I get a refund if I choose not to continue with the program?
If you’ve been scammed by a fraudulent job offer, report it. Start with filing a complaint with Business Consumer Alliance. Contact the administrator of the website or social media platform where the offer was posted to report your experience. This may lead to an investigation and the ad being removed. You should also file a fraud report with the Federal Trade Commission.