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How to Spot Online Job Scams

When you’re looking for work, it can be tempting to respond to every offer or opportunity. Unfortunately, scam artists take advantage of this vulnerable time in people’s lives by stealing personal information through bogus job offers, fake website applications and fake job postings.

To help you better interpret employment postings, we’ve compiled the following tips outlining signs of potential scams:

  • Personal Data Requests – Legitimate employers should not request any personal data, such as a driver’s license number or Social Security Number (SSN), until you have met with a company representative in person and accepted the job offer in writing.
  • Utility Bill Requests – There is no reason a potential employer needs to see a utility bill. According to the Department of Homeland Security, utility bills cannot be used as a form of identification to determine employment availability, for citizens or non-citizens.
  • Website Issues – When researching jobs online, be sure the website domain of the company you wish to work for is correct. Many scammers will develop websites with domains similar to well-known companies in hopes of eliciting personal information. Also note the quality of the site. Are there significant grammatical errors? Do the claims seem too good to be true? Are there issues with functionality? These may be signs the company is a sham.
  • Outstanding Offers – Beware of inflated salary offers that don’t match your job skills, or a work-from-home position that promises a six-figure income for very little effort. Additionally, be skeptical of companies that extend offers to you when you never inquired. Some scam artists will claim they saw your resume on an online portal. Research any request thoroughly before responding. You can verify companies with a local phone book, Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Who Is database.
  • Email Address Provider – Check the email address of individuals responding to your job inquiries. A legitimate employer’s email address should contain the company name, rather than an address from a free provider like Yahoo or Gmail.
  • Up-front Fees – Individuals who request payment for job leads or job placement may be scam artists. You should never have to pay for a job. If you are paying for a job recruitment service, be sure to verify its legitimacy with the BBB and make any payments in person.

If you suspect you are the victim of an online job scam, first check your credit report for any irregularities at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also create a temporary fraud alert with each of the three major credit bureaus:

  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), visit the FTC Complaint Assistant.