How to ID Job Advertisement Fraud

By Joe Stein

A troubling aspect of our challenged economy is the increased number of fraudulent or scam job advertisements. Job Seekers have enough to be concerned about without having to add avoiding falling victim to these situations.

So, how do you attempt to separate the many legitimate job advertisements from those rare ones that are fraudulent? The following are some criteria to use when you are evaluating a posting or e-mail request (keep in mind that no individual item is an automatic sign that an advertisement should be avoided):

• Non-Company E-mail Address – Question the situation if you do not see an e-mail address attached to a recognized company. Fraudulent job posters will use free e-mail services such as Yahoo. This is because they lack an actual employer address and these free services make it easier to open and close accounts to avoid being tracked.

• Request for Money – Real employers do not ask for money in exchange for accepting an application. I have never, in my almost 20-years of Human Resources, ever encountered a legitimate company requiring payment. This is not to be confused with companies that will help you job search in exchange for money (although that is also a situation that should be reviewed closely).

• If It Is Too Good to Be True It Probably Is – We have probably all seen the ads touting how you can earn an astronomical amount of money with little effort. Many of these will allow you to make all this money by “working from home” (if you even have to work!). These scams also may tout a very streamlined process where your application will result in a job. We all know that a legitimate process will include interviewing and possibly testing.

• Unsolicited E-Mail – If you receive an e-mail from someone unsolicited, then review closely. Legitimate Recruiters may, via a Resume Search or Networking, reach out to you about an opportunity. They will, however, clearly identify who they are and what company they work for. They will also note for you how they heard about you, either by writing down the website where they found your Resume or who they were networking with.

• Poorly Written Note – Apparently scammers are too busy ripping people off to write quality e-mails and postings. If you have received an e-mail request or read a posting that is riddled with spelling errors, slang, or grammatical mistakes, then this is a tell-tale sign to avoid it.

• Clearly a Pyramid or Marketing Trap – The “job” is a pyramid scheme (i.e. “a scam”) if you must convince “others” to sign-up for something, who will then “collect” other people. It is not an actual profession and will eventually collapse, leaving you to dig out of a difficult predicament. Avoid “jobs” that do not contain real work.
What Can You To Do To Prevent Becoming a Victim?

• Use Established Sources – There are many websites out there that contain job advertisements. Many of these sites are free for advertisers and have little in the way of checks on the legitimacy of an advertiser. You are assuming some risk if you are using a website that contains a wide range of postings from people selling toasters to job advertisements. Compare this example with; WNYJOBS possesses an experienced team of local representatives who work directly with the leading companies in the area. They possess a breadth and depth of knowledge of the local market that won’t be found elsewhere. While no system is fool-proof, a Job Seeker can use WNYJOBS with a much higher sense of confidence than other sources.

• Limit Personal Information – In general, employers do not, at application, require you to provide sensitive personal information. In fact, companies no longer ask for your Social Security Number upfront. Instead, they wait until you are hired and then ask because they need to establish your ability to work in the United States. Often, these non-legitimate companies will request you to complete a form sharing personal identification and financial information. A popular scam is requesting a Credit Report or Drivers License to verify who you are and your interest.

• Do Your Research – Pretty much every legitimate company has some presence on the Internet - whether this is an actual website, a physical address, or news articles. If you cannot find any information that will tie this advertisement to a known entity, then you should probably avoid. Also, if you are researching a company and encounter information on the Internet regarding a poor/negative reputation, then you should dig deeper. Sometimes, individuals who have been “scammed” (and are not too embarrassed about their situation) will post their experience online so others can learn from their error.

• Pause and Think About It – Times are tough for many. A long period of unemployment may cause you to consider taking a chance that you would otherwise avoid. The reality, however, is falling victim to one of these scams can be devestating. It is probably not worth the long odds that it may actually be legitimate. Sometimes these scams will try to pry on your desperation by providing a small window of time for you to complete the process. The reason is that they want you to believe that the competition is fierce and time is short in order to convince you to react without thinking fully about it.

A savvy Job Seeker protects himself from the various questionable job posting requests, and advertisements that circulate. Know the signs that should cause you to pause, express caution, and ultimately make the right decision regarding whether to move forward with your application or ignore/reject.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

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