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Business Consumer Alliance Blog

Job Hunters Don’t Fall Prey to Scams

Sitting woman looking for job in newspaper

Searching for employment is a job in itself. Sorting through job openings, applying for a job, and going through the interview and hiring process can be a task. Job seekers should always research job openings before applying and remain wary of certain employment offers. 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 giving over 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 They even copy outdated listings from real job sites to lure in respondents.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 up-front for job opportunities. This is a clear tip-off that the offer is a scam. Legitimate placement firms don’t usually charge applicants a fee. Typically, the prospective employer pays the firm to find qualified candidates.

Work from Home Offers

There are 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, it's usually a scam if they ask that you pay for “training”, “starter kits”, “membership fees”, “leads”, “lists," etc. 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 from which to recover. 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” to success, only to steal their money. Some have lost substantial amounts of money 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 and U.S. Postal Service jobs at

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 listing before sharing any information for the job. Only apply to openings you have thoroughly checked out.

Job Search Resources

The U.S. Department of Labor sponsored website lists job openings from public and private sectors. Federal job listings can be found on Visit 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.

Thoughtful female freelancer watching laptop in light room at home

Helpful Tips

If you find a position you are interested in, research the field and the related salary for the position. Check to see what qualifications are typically needed to fill the position. If the pay offered is considerably higher than the norm, be cautious when responding to the opening.

Checking out the company is very important. Start by researching the business's reputation. Next, conduct an internet search to find out if there are any complaints or information about the job opening. Check with the state Attorney General for complaints or actions filed against the business. Also, research articles written about the business in magazines, newspapers, and other sources.

After you’ve done some research, contact the solicitor and ask questions to determine if the” job” is legitimate. Some questions to ask may include:

  1. What tasks will I need to perform on the job? Make sure they detail the duties you will be required to complete.
  2. Will I be paid a salary or will I work on commission?
  3. Who will I report to?
  4. Who will pay me?
  5. When will I get my first check?
  6. 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.
  7. 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 are considering investing in a business opportunity, the seller must provide a copy of the legally required 1-page disclosure document which must:

  • Identify the seller.
  • Tell you about any lawsuits against the seller.
  • Tell you if the seller has a cancellation or refund policy, and its terms.
  • Give you a list of references.
  • Tell you if the seller is making a claim about how much money you can make. If they are, they also must give you an earnings claim statement.

Avoid any seller that contradicts what’s in their disclosure document or earnings claim statement.

Job seekers should also 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.
  • If hired, wait to set up direct deposit from any unfamiliar employer until you have determined you are working for a trustworthy company.

Reporting Scams

If you’ve been scammed by a fraudulent job listing, report it. Start with filing a complaint with Business Consumer Alliance (BCA). Contact the administrator of the website or social media platform where the opening 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. Follow BCA on Facebook to stay updated on scam alerts, consumer tips, and trending industry topics.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.