FTC Warns of Scams Targeting Job Hunters, Here’s What You Need to Know





Woman on laptop looking disappointed

Finding work is hard enough without being bombarded with scam job offers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers insight into determining whether a job offer is legit, an attempt to steal your identity or rob you.

Jobs are increasingly moving to online methods to sift through and hire candidates. However, so are scammers who prey on vulnerable people, hoping they’re desperate enough for a job to ignore warning signs. Job hunters need to be wary of companies reaching out to them, mainly if you haven’t applied to said job.

Scammers will masquerade as a legitimate company, often a well-known or prestigious business. Job seekers will receive a message from a faux “executive recruiter” offering an interview for a job that seems too good to be true… because it is. 

The message will say something to the effect of “We saw your portfolio online and were impressed,” “According to your LinkedIn profile, you have just the experience we’re looking for,” “We asked others in your industry for recommendations, and your name kept popping up.” They may sound formal, using Mr. and Mrs., some parts may be in all caps, or they could get defensive about you “wasting their time” by inquiring for more information about the job before proceeding. They’ll try to rush you into accepting the job and handing over your valuable personal information.

The fraudsters will invite you to a text or teleconference interview to discuss job duties, salary, benefits, and promotional potential and offer you a tempting offer. If you accept an interview, scammers will quickly move to “hire” you. They may send over hiring paperwork to fill out along with an employee handbook. These are attempts to gather personal information, such as your address, phone number, social security number, and bank account information.

While the information provided will look legit, they’re not. The scammers create legit-looking documents by copying the look of an honest company. They may offer to cover the cost of training and equipment or provide a sign-on bonus, all of which is bogus. 

Depositing such checks into your bank account will cost you. Once the money is pending in your account, the scammer will instruct you to purchase equipment or shift the funds to a different account. After following their instructions, the scammer will vanish. Your bank will eventually notice the check is a fraud, but since you’ve already sent the money to another account, you’ll be responsible for covering the cost. 

Another tactic scammers use is having you front the cost of equipment. They’ll specify what to purchase and reimburse you on your first paycheck. No equipment will arrive, and you’ll be left holding the bill. Remember, an employer will not ask you to front the equipment costs or pay for job training. 

Be wary if you’re job hunting and receive an interview or job offer. Salaries that are above the going rate for such positions are sketchy. Doing some research will give you an idea of income expectations in your field. A job that offers significantly more is a red flag. 

Find the company online and contact them through their verified lines. If the company isn’t hiring or says they haven’t contacted you, inform them their business is a front for fraudsters. Be careful, as fake job offers can mimic the company’s website convincingly. Look for typos, an altered URL, and other inconsistencies, such as peculiar email addresses that don’t align with the company.

Another way to protect yourself is to verify the number’s area code contacting you. If a company is in California, but you’re seeing an area code from out of the country, that’s another red flag.

There are a few ways to protect yourself. Applying for jobs through their website instead of a job search website, like LinkedIn or Indeed, can help keep your resume out of the hands of fake jobs posted on such sites. Such job sites are great for finding companies looking for workers, but switching to the company’s website will help protect you. You’ll be able to see current job openings on many company pages, further evidence you’re applying for a real job. 

You can also create a different email address on your resume so scammers won’t have access to your actual email. You can get a second phone number for added protection through Google to protect your phone. If you are a target for scammers, file a report with the FTC. Provide all the information about the scam, such as emails or phone numbers who contacted you, screenshots of conversations, and any other information sent to you.

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