By COLLEEN TRESSLER
FTC, Division of Consumer and Business Education
Recent layoffs in industries like the tech sector have scammers fine-tuning their approaches to take advantage. They may advertise jobs online, sometimes setting up fake websites, or look for targets on social media — all to try to steal your money and personal information.
Scammers may go to great lengths to get what they want. Some may conduct fake online job interviews and set up phony onboarding portals where they ask you for Social Security numbers and bank account information to (supposedly) deposit paychecks. Other scammers may ask you to send money for (supposed) equipment needed for remote work — with the promise to reimburse you with your first paycheck. But these are scams.
Whether you’re looking for your first job or seeking a new gig, here’s some advice to help you avoid job scams:
Verify job openings before you apply. Reach out to the company directly using contact information you know to be legit — not an email or phone number you got from the person who contacted you. If you’re not familiar with the company, search its name with the word “scam” or “fraud.” You may find stories from others who have been targeted.
Watch for telltale signs of a possible scam. There’s no sure-fire way to detect a job scam, but there are red flags that should raise your suspicions — for example, email from personal accounts not affiliated with a company, poor spelling and grammar, interviews conducted solely via email or online chat, salaries out of line with industry norms, and requests for account numbers or other personal information.
Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Honest employers will never ask you to pay to get a job. And legitimate placement firms and headhunters typically don’t charge prospective employees. Instead, they’re paid by the company looking for qualified candidates. If you’re asked for money, walk away. You could be dealing with a scam.
The FTC has resources to help you spot potential job scams. If you run across something sketchy during your job search, report it to the FTC.