How to Spot a Fake Job Offer

Woman shaking hands with others in an office setting.

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Here’s how to avoid being a victim.

key points

  • Criminals have been known to target consumers through bogus job listings.
  • There are certain signs that indicate that a job opportunity isn’t actually legitimate.

While inflation may be hitting a lot of consumers hard these days, the good news is that the labor market is very strong. And so if you’re in the market for a new job, now’s a good time to be looking.

That said, you’ll need to proceed with caution when responding to job listings online. Criminals have grown increasingly adept at getting consumers to disclose personal information via bogus job postings. Here are just a few signs that a job opportunity you’re looking at is nothing more than a giant scam.

1. You’re asked to share personal financial details during an initial phone screening

Once you reach the point where you’ve gotten an official job offer (and you’re ready to accept), you’ll need to fill out paperwork that will generally require you to share personal financial data, like your Social Security number. You’ll also need to provide your employer with bank account details so that your paychecks can be deposited automatically into your checking account.

But none of that information is necessary during an initial phone screening. At that point, the person on the other end of the line should merely be vetting your qualifications and gauging your interest in the role at hand. So if you’re asked to divulge more information, run the other way.

Similarly, it’s very rare to be offered a job over the phone after a mere 30-minute call. So assume that you’re being scammed if the person you’re speaking to says, “Great, when can you start, and can you give me your bank account details so we can set up payments?”

2. The interviewer won’t tell you the company name

Some job posters intentionally don’t include a company name in a job listing. That’s a questionable practice to begin with. But if you’re asked to do a phone screening and your interviewer won’t share the name of the company you’re applying to at that point, then it’s a sign that there’s no real job to be had.

3. The listing itself doesn’t look professional

Not everyone is a grammar whiz. And if you’re applying for a job in IT or accounting, it’s conceivable that the hiring manager who put the listing together doesn’t have the best writing skills.

But if you spot a job listing that’s loaded with errors and doesn’t sound like it even makes sense, then chances are, it’s a fake job — one you don’t want to apply for. Furthermore, while not everyone can write well, there es such a thing as spell check. And if the listing you’re looking at clearly wasn’t subject to it, consider that a red flag.

These days, there are plenty of legitimate job offers on the table. But it’s important to recognize those scenarios where you may have failed into a criminal’s trap. Any time you disclose information like your Social Security number and bank account number to the wrong person, you run the risk of identity theft. So it’s important to be vigilant in the course of applying for jobs given the number of scammers out there.

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