All you need is a job. But all that fake “employer” wants is your personal information or money.

4 minute read

Millions of people quit their jobs in 2021 in what has been called the Great Resignation. Now job boards are full of employers looking for the right people to bring on – but some posts are fake job listings.

Cybercriminals can pose as legitimate employers, spoof company websites, and post jobs on popular online job boards. Then they conduct false interviews with unwitting applicants, usually requesting personal information or money.

With sensitive information, identity thieves can take over your bank accounts, open new bank and credit card accounts, and obtain fake driver’s licenses or passports. The average loss for fake job listing victims is about $3,000 – in addition to credit score damage, according to the FBI.

Here are some telltale signs of a fake job post…

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1. Know what cybercriminals are capable of faking

Know what cyber criminals are capable of faking

Use of spoofed company websites, along with advertising alongside legitimate employers and job placement companies for credibility is prevalent among job listing fakers, according to the FBI, which recommends conducting a thorough online search using the name of the company posting the ad. If you find multiple sites for the same company, that may indicate a fraudulent job post.

Scammers may impersonate actual company managers, recruiters, or people from various departments, including human resources, offering victims jobs, often in a work-from-home capacity. “Cybercriminals executing this scam request the same information as legitimate employers, making it difficult to identify a hiring scam until it is too late,” says the FBI.

You can help protect yourself, however, by knowing the signs of a fake job listing.

Find out: How to Protect Yourself From Online Identity Theft

2. Non-company email domains

Non-company email domains

If the job poster says he or she works for the company listing the job but uses a non-company email, beware. A legitimate human resources staffer won’t typically communicate with you using a Gmail or other non-company email account.

3. Questionable video interviews

Questionable video interviews

Video and teleconference interviews aren’t necessarily a sign of a fake employer, especially during coronavirus precautions. However, if the recruiter will only conduct interviews via teleconference applications using email addresses instead of phone numbers and refuses to conduct in-person or secure video call interviews, be careful.

Those out-of-the-ordinary interviews could be a red flag of a fake job listing and someone seeking your personal information for identity theft.

4. Pre-hiring requests for personal information

Pre-hiring requests for personal information

Legitimate companies only request personally identifiable information and bank account information for payroll and direct deposit after – not before – hiring an employee.

“Never share your Social Security number or other PII that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information,” the FBI cautions. Never give your credit card information to a potential employer.

5. Sending you a fat check

Sending you a fat check

Also beware of the scam where the potential employer sends you a check for start-up funds, has you cash the check, and then asks you to return a portion of the money to the person who mailed the check.

When the fake check bounces a week or two later, you’ll be out the money you sent to the scammer and will owe the amount of the check to the bank where you cashed it, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“If someone offers you a job, sends you a check, but then insists you wire the extra money back,  don’t do it. It’s a scam,” says the FTC. Report the job poster to the FTC Complaint Assistant.

6. Requiring you to make purchases

Requiring you to make purchases

When a potential employer asks you to buy start-up equipment from their company or says you must pay the company to be hired, those requests could indicate a job listing scam.

7. Job posting isn’t on the company website

Job posting isn’t on the company website

When you find a job posted on Craigslist or other job boards but the company named in the ad has no listing of the job opening on its business website or careers section, that could be a red flag that the job listing is a scam.

Before applying, call the company directly to verify that the job listing is legitimate.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC