How to Identify a Fraudulent Posting

Job-ScamWhile online job postings are a great way to start your search, it is important to be aware of the scams. These fraudulent job postings often target young professionals for a number of reasons; the major reason being money. The best way to protect yourself is to become informed and research the companies you are applying to and any who reach out to you.

Quick tips for uncovering fraud

  1. Google employer’s information like phone, email, name.
  2. Use Better Business Bureau, Anywho, and Glassdoor to verify organizations.
  3. Contact the company you are applying to and confirm the contact you have.
  4. Do not share personal information unless you are confident that the company, contact, and posting is legitimate.
  5. Google for fraudulent job postings and scam job postings to inform yourself further.
  6. Google the company name with the word “scam” to start researching.
  7. Try Ripoff Report for scam reports.

Protect your personal and private information

  1. NEVER provide your bank account number, credit card number, PayPal account, or PIN number over the phone or online.
  2. NEVER provide your Social Security number or birthdate over the phone or email. Many job applications will want this information, but it will not be solicited this way. The information is typically a part of a formal job application that candidates complete in writing the same day as the interview.
  3. Always be sure of the person you are sharing your personal information with, and how that information is being used. If someone asks for this information, get the person’s name, company, phone and email—research them first. If they do not want to share this information—something is wrong.

Red Flags

Job postings that ask for your credit card, bank account, or any personal financial documentation.

A legitimate recruiter will not ask for this information on an application, through email, or phone.

Recruiters and applications that ask you to send payment in any form, i.e. initial investment.

Never send money to a potential employer. This is a way to access your bank account and take your money. An employer will not ask for an initial investment ever. Although some network marketing may ask you to pay a fee or deposit to obtain their product for demonstration, these are not advisable.

The contact email domain name does not match with the listed company name or is a non-business domain.

Recruiters are generally associated with the companies they represent, and their email address will reflect that. Emails from Gmail, Ymail, etc. suggest a red flag. They will not use a personal email to reach out to you either.

The company with the opening does not have an active website.

Companies and organizations should have an active website that is associated with the company. If the URL reroutes to an unassociated website, this is a red flag.

The posting or written correspondence includes grammatical and spelling errors.

Professional employers will proof and edit job postings. Use your best judgement when it comes to errors. If a posting is littered with grammatical and syntax errors, you may want to reconsider working for them.

An entry level position that requires minimum skills is listed with a high salary or wage.

This is a red flag, and designed to entice young professionals to apply. Use Glassdoor as a reference for average salaries. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The posting states, you will be working from home.

This may be a convenience hook that draws students and recent grads into applying to a fraudulent posting. If you find any other red flags, make sure to do research. Working from home may be legitimate, and you can be hired as a “1099 independent contractor.” This means you are responsible for all of your tax liabilities. However, make sure you research the company, position, and employer extensively. Some scams also present offers that appear as traditional jobs, but further research shows it may be an independent contractor opportunity. If the employer does not present a clear contract for work, do not apply.

Postings seeking students or recent graduates with minimal qualifications that suggest access to top level management, i.e. CEO, CFO, etc.

Some companies have specific management training programs that have legitimate documentation (recruiting materials, brochures, etc.). While it is possible that some college graduates may have an opportunity at top level management, it will not be the case in most situations. This is a tactic by fraudulent employers to entice applicants.

The job is for a start-up business or a new business that is just gaining traction.

This is a scam to hook young graduates to be creative and get in on the ground floor. They know that is what most college grads will be drawn to. If the job posting or offer has any other red flags, make sure to do some research. You can look on the Better Business Bureau to identify the business, or look around for any information of the start-up. If the business is legitimate, they should be able to provide you with information and legitimacy about it.

Your future employer offers a reward for the use of your bank account (to deposit checks or transfer money).

All legitimate employers will have a company bank account. An employer will never ask to use an employee’s bank account for any reason. Do not allow any employer to use your bank account. If a check is bounced, you will be responsible. Note: In-home “check processing services” is a term to look out for when avoiding this scam.

Postings ask to provide a photo of yourself.

This is not a standard practice in the United States. Some professions and application will ask for a photo, however, this is rare. In some cases, fraudulent employers are posting from outside the US and do not know this is not standard, making it a dead giveaway. Note: Be careful of employers who may use photos for selection reasons not based on your skills, abilities, and knowledge.

Envelope Stuffer, Home-based Assembly, Online Survey job postings.

These positions are often flexible hours and offer great compensation for the work. A fraudulent employer may be after your information. Be very cautious when looking for part time work of this nature.

Job postings that state salary or hourly rate without much more information about responsibilities and qualifications.

A legitimate, well thought-out position will provide applicants with a description of the job, location, and other important details. Lack of this information and hesitation to give this information is a red flag. They may be drawing you in with a high salary and not much else.

An employer responds to you right after you have submitted your resume. Note: This is not referring to an automated response.

Employers generally take time to review  resumes to find the best candidates. Typically, it will be reviewed by many individuals before you are contacted. A quick response may mean a fraudulent employer is only looking at your personal information and not your skill level.

It is difficult to find an address, full contact information, company name.

Fraudulent employers will not have locations, more often than not. They will actively work to keep their information hidden. If you cannot find contact information or a location, do not apply.

An employer contacted you by phone using a private number.

A potential employer will have an active and visible number to be reached. They will want to be reachable by clients, partners, applicants, etc.

The company’s website only has information about job interest.

At first glance it may look legitimate. Company websites will contain information to attract clients or customers, not only job descriptions. Look around for information about the company, what they do, etc. The URL web address may also help you; does it have the title? If it is a random run of numbers and letters, it may be a scam.

The employer does not have an office in your location, but is asking the applicant to help start up a “new” office.

These postings are often fraudulent, and will request your banking information.

LinkedIn contact requests with minimal profile content.

Legitimate recruiters are using LinkedIn now to reach potential applicants. However, make sure you research contacts requesting to connect with you and messaging you about potential jobs. Look on their profile for amount of connections, information about their organization, and proof of their legitimate employment there.

Not every red flag will prove to be a fraudulent employer and this list is not definitive. We have provided them to assist you with your search. You should be aware of them in order to protect yourself against the real scams.

What to do if you discover a scam

If you have been scammed, there are a few things you can do.

  1. If you discover a fraudulent posting on our system Road to Success, please contact the Career and Professional Development Center immediately at 508-213-2489. We verify all postings, but we are not immune to fraudulent employer’s tricks.
  2. Contact the local police if a scammer has taken your money or personal information.
  3. If you have sent money to a fraudulent employer, contact your bank or the credit card company immediately to close your account to prevent future charges and dispute charges that have already been made. 

This handout was created with information from the LSU Olinde Career Center and Georgia State University Career Services booklets.

By Jenna Parker
Jenna Parker Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator Jenna Parker