November 9, 2022

Scams targeting jobseekers are increasing. Now it is even easier for scammers to target people who are looking for work, using newer tools such as phony websites, unsolicited emails, robocalls and cold calls using faked origin phone numbers, remote interviews using tools such as Skype, social media, instant messenger services, Internet pop-up ads, and more.

Of course, these criminals use all the same traditional methods to reach their victims too: flyers, posters, letters, and advertisements.

Scammers who prey on job seekers have no mercy. They will try to steal your identity and your money, could try to involve you in a criminal enterprise and may leave you deeply in debt – unless you know how to recognize their tricks.


Ways to recognize a job scam

1. Job offers from strangers. If someone offers you a job without getting an application from you first, meeting you, or doing an interview, it’s a scam.


2. High pay for simple work. Be wary if ads, emails, or callers promise to pay a lot of money for jobs that don’t seem to require much effort, skill, or experience. Usually, such offers turn out to be a scam.


3. Requests for money. If someone wants you to pay a fee or buy something to get work, stop. This is a sure sign of a scam. Once you’ve paid, the scammer disappears and so does your money.


  • Criminals may ask you to pay money to cover application or enrollment fees, employment screening fees, purchase of materials or office supplies, shipping costs, training fees, and so on.
  • If you wire a payment to somebody, it may not be possible to get your money back.
  • Scammers may also ask you to purchase gift cards and provide the card’s code numbers or request other forms of payment that are quick and hard to recover, such as payment apps.

4. Requests for personal identity or financial information. Be very suspicious if an unfamiliar “employer” or recruiter asks for your Social Security number, birth date, bank account number, online banking credentials or other private information that could be used to steal your identity.

An employer should never request your Social Security number prior to an interview. It is

common for job scammers to try to get this critical information when pretending to hire

the victim. Don’t give such details to anyone you have not investigated first or whom you

have not met. If you have not met the employer, do not agree to a background check, which could put you at risk of identity theft.


5. Fake checks. Some scammers send checks to cover the supposed cost of doing a job, with a portion to be used as payment to the worker. This is a technique often called an “overpayment” scam.


  • The fake check may look real and appears to clear at first, but soon it bounces – typically after the victim has spent a lot of money to benefit the scammer.
  • Even cashier’s checks and money orders can be faked by scammers, so beware of checks that are sent by unfamiliar people. Job scam victims can lose thousands due to fake checks.

6. High pressure to act now. Reject anybody who pushes you hard to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or who pressures you to take other actions that seem unusual, for the sake of a job. High pressure is always a sign that something is wrong.


7. Long-distance employer. Many job scams involve opportunities that seem to come from an employer located in another country or a distant state. Watch out! Scammers use this as an excuse to hide their identities. If the employer lists only a P.O. Box and does not provide a local street address, be wary: this is also a way of hiding that the scammer may be in a remote location. However, be aware that there are also cases where bold scammers open temporary offices and conduct in-person interviews – and then vanish, after taking your money or identity information.


8. Suspicious emails. All unsolicited emails bearing job offers should be viewed with suspicion. If you receive a job offer in an email that comes from a free email service, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, it is very likely to be a scam. Most real employers will use an email address related to their company’s website address. Bear in mind that it is also easy for scammers to imitate an email address from a legitimate company.


9. Fake websites. If the company making the job offer has a website, check to see when the website was established. You can do this by entering the website address in a “WHOIS” lookup site.


  • If the website was established only recently, contains many language errors, or doesn’t work properly, it could be a scam.
  • If contact information for a physical street address for the business is missing or does not make sense, be cautious: a cellphone number and email address are not sufficient.
  • Don’t click on links that someone sends you to verify a company’s identity. Instead, search the web on your own with the company name and check location addresses online to see if they match the business.


If you suspect you’ve been a victim of this or any other scam, contact your financial institution right away. Learn more about protecting yourself and your money.