Tight as the job market might be, you shouldn’t jump at every offer that comes your way. You’ll be throwing away your time and money if you fall for a job scam. Scammers are clever, and even “smart” people are susceptible. Trust your instincts; if a job seems sketchy, or too good to be true, it probably is. Here are five warning signs that job offer might not be legit.
1. The job requires money up front
You should not have to make a financial investment to get a job. If you have to pay money up-front, or buy the company’s products first, something’s probably wrong. In many scams like this, you’ll make the investment and be out of luck. The “envelope stuffing scam” is a good example, and a popular one on college campuses. The advertisement will tell you that you can make money at home in your spare time by stuffing envelopes. However, once you respond, you’ll be asked to pay a “registration fee” to participate. Then, you’ll be sent a letter with instructions to post the exact same flier you saw and replace the contact info with yours. Technically you can make money…if you’re willing to become a scam artist yourself.
There are a few legitimate jobs that require money up front, but you’ll always encounter these in a much more professional environment. If you’re applying for a job in the education field, for example, you may be legally required to pay for a background check. In most cases, companies and organizations will not ask you for something like this until after they’ve hired you.
2. You’re getting your first paycheck before you’ve even started
Beware of any potential employer who wants to send you money from overseas, especially if you haven’t even started working yet. Scammers are increasingly using check fraud to take advantage of trusting job seekers. In the job listing, the scammer may claim they’re looking for a tutor, babysitter, or some other sort of service position for “when they arrive” in the United States, and they’ll offer to send you money in advance to show you how trustworthy they are. When you receive the check, it will be much more than the amount you agreed upon. Then they’ll say, “There’s been a mistake,” and ask you to wire the extra amount back to them. The problem is, the check is a fake, and it’ll probably take a few days for your bank to figure it out. In the meantime, you’ve sent the scammer free, untraceable money.
3. You have to pack and “re-ship” items at home
Another job scam offers part-time “packing and shipping” work at home. Once the scammer gains your trust, they’ll send packages to your house, and ask you to repack and ship them to a new address. They’ll promise to send you a check once you’ve sent a certain number of packages. The packages are typically filled with stolen goods, and you’ll be considered an accessory to the crime for re-shipping stolen property. No legitimate company requires a middleman to “forward” their packages.
4. The job promises high returns with no experience required
“Make $1,000 a day working from home! No experience necessary.” Sound fishy? It should. If a job requires no experience, you can probably expect low wages and lackluster hours. If they suggest otherwise, watch out. Many work-at-home jobs, even if they’re legitimate, can’t guarantee you a certain number of hours, if any. The wage estimate is probably based on the maximum number of hours you could possibly earn in the best-case scenario. At best, the wages they advertise are highly misleading, if not completely false.
5. The job post is full of marketing, not facts
You won’t learn everything you need to know about a job just from the advertisement, but you should at least learn, um, the name of the company and the job title? How about your basic responsibilities? If the company withholds basic information from you, something’s wrong. They may not even be a legitimate business. Some scammers post fake job opportunities just to get you to send in your “application information” so they can sell your information, or use it to commit fraud. Check to see if a business is legitimate for applying, and never ever provide sensitive information, like bank account or social security numbers, when you’re sending our resumes.