While it is possible to find a good job online, job seekers have to be vigilant about scams. Job scams are very common on job boards, particularly Craigslist. You shouldn’t rule out Craigslist as a site to use in your search, but you should know the signs of a scam before you start your search. Some signs that a job listing is a scam:
Anything that involves dealing with money upfront, such as wiring money or depositing checks, should be avoided. Although most people know to avoid wiring money, they may still fall prey to a scammer. Remember if it involves money transfers of any kind, it’s a scam.
Requesting Personal Information
You should never give out personal information, especially your social security number, to a potential employer. Once you’re hired, legitimate employers will need this information for reporting purposes, but never upfront. Most scammers will not ask in the posting, but will instead reply with an email requesting the information. The hope is that you will be excited to get a response and provide the information without question. If you receive an email requesting your social security number, date of birth, address, bank account and/or credit card information, do not reply and delete immediately.
Employers should have a specific description of what the job entails, such as day-t0-day responsibilities. If you read through a job posting and still aren’t sure what the job actually involves, it’s a good sign of a scam. Other warning signs include lack of company information (location, industry) and promises of a large income without explanation of how it will be earned.
Postings on Multiple City Boards
Some larger companies do hire in multiple cities, but often scammers post on multiple job boards to reach the largest number of potential targets. If you see a job listed in several job boards or multiple times over a short time period, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.
Work from Home
Many people would love to work from home, but most employers won’t allow an employee to start working from home right away. Typically, one has to earn the right to work from home. Therefore job listings that offer work from home opportunities with no conditions (face-to-face interviews, etc) are probably not legitimate.
Phrases like “The Company” or “The Organization” are a pretty good sign of a job scam. Legitimate employers will probably not refer to themselves using these words (especially with random capitalization). If you see other signs of a scam in addition to odd phrasing, punctuation or grammar, it’s best to move on.
For more advice on avoiding online job scams, read our post on Job Scam Red Flags.