Over the past year, there have been numerous news media stories on what’s being called the Great Resignation, where many people—ranging from those either early in their career or mid-career, and often working in service industries—have been leaving their jobs without first having accepted new positions with a different company.
In response to the Great Resignation, there are millions of available jobs at companies needing to replace or increase full or part-time staff, with both employed and unemployed candidates eager to apply for a new, potentially more profitable position. Employers are posting open positions on online job boards, and recruiters are reaching out to potential candidates by phone and email. But not all of those jobs are real—some are fake and being promoted by scammers posing as job recruiters trying to steal money and hijack financial and other types of personal accounts.
What are some of the indications of a fake job scam?
Following are some job recruiting behaviors and situations that could indicate that you’re being targeted for a scam:
- The position being offered by a recruiter has very general candidate requirements and description of responsibilities. Jobs usually have very specific requirements in terms of education, along with the number years and type of experience. It’s common for experience in a specific industry to be mandated; the candidate must have worked in that industry before. Any job has to describe what its work actually consists of, what the day-to-day activities and responsibilities are. Any job that doesn’t tell you what it involves should be approached cautiously.
- The recruiter’s email is unprofessional, with limited or no contact information. Poor spelling and grammar from a recruiter who is also unwilling to share their contact details and company name are a strong warning that you’re not being approached by a genuine recruiter representing a reputable company.
- The job offers a salary or hourly wage that seems to be higher than might be appropriate for the position or for your experience or skill level. Situations that seem too good to be true are often false, and if the money attached to the offer is significantly more than what you expected or had encountered before, then be cautious. While finding workers is apparently a challenge for employers during the pandemic, companies are generally not going to go outside their pre-set industry limits on salary ranges for many positions.
- You are offered a job without having an interview. The job scammer will give an excuse why they can hire someone right away without conducting an interview, but almost every company requires at least one interview before hiring someone. Scammers might say they’re out of town, they’re overwhelmed with work, that an interview is not required for the type of position being offered, or they may have another false reason for not talking to you by phone, via an online video call, or in person to evaluate your capabilities for the position.
- The company asks you to pay it money. There would have to be an extremely unusual reason for a legitimate employer to require a job applicant to provide upfront money to cover any of the costs of being hired. If a company has the money to hire someone, it should have the money to pay for all the pre-hiring and hiring expenses of the candidate, including travel expenses for interviews, researching employment history, financial and credit background checks, investigation of legal judgments, and drug tests.
- The company wants to pay you with a check before your job starts. This activity could be a fake check scam, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has details on how these work. Companies generally do not pay someone before they do any work. The job scammer may say that the money is to buy office supplies for a home office or other job-related expenses, but the check being sent to the newly hired worker is fake. After sending the check to you, the company will then tell you to send some of the funds from the check to another person or return part (or all) of it to the bogus company. The scammer will make up excuses for wanting the money sent back or to someone, but the check is fake and no money from it is going into your account. Any money sent back to the scammer is based on a false deposit, and your financial institution will likely expect you to repay it the money from the fake check.
- The recruiter is in a hurry and wants sensitive information right away, such as a Social Security number, or account information, such as for financial accounts and online payment services, such as Venmo®. Be careful about sharing sensitive, private information, and don’t rush to give it to anyone. Get a better understanding of the recruiter and potential employer by getting more information on your own, not from the recruiter. Conduct thorough online searches for the recruiter’s name, office address, LinkedIn® profile, email address, phone number, and text of the messages they sent you—the more details you have then the more research you can do. Your research might uncover that other people have been scammed by the same recruiter or company.
- The company has no website, or a limited, vague and conflicting social media presence—or it has no social media profiles at all. Whether it’s a company website, or a page on LinkedIn®, Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, TikTok® or other social media, most companies have created and maintained at least some social media pages to present themselves to the public and promote their activities. If the information on the different sites is vague and limited, and if the sites don’t have similar, consistent information, then be wary. Keep in mind that scammers will often do significant preparation to appear legitimate and legal, including creating fake social media profiles and websites that may be difficult to determine as fake.
Help the U.S. government catch and shut down scammers
To help protect yourself and others, please take the time to report any fraud, scams, and unethical (or possibly illegal) business practices to the federal government’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The FTC works to protect U.S. consumers from illegal business practices, and helps to identify, shut down, and prosecute scammers. The more information that can be given on the contact with the scammer, the more useful your report will be to the government in tracking and shutting them down. The specific information FTC will want to know includes:
- Your contact information: name, address, phone number, email
- The type of product or service involved
- Information about the company or seller: business name, address, phone number, website, email address, representative’s name, the day and time you were contacted
- Details about the transaction: the amount you paid, how you paid, the date the payment was made
How else can I protect myself from scammers?
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is one of the government agencies that deals with fraudulent commerce as part of its mission, and it has numerous recommendations for avoiding many types of scams, including tech support exams, and it’s worth reading.
Delta Community has a few more thoughts on protecting yourself and your accounts online in these blog and security posts:
For anyone interested in additional information on protecting their accounts or financial guidance, check out the free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on a range of money-related topics. You can visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for its no-cost, on-demand webinars.