Job Scam Warning Signs!

1. Too Good to be True: Good jobs are hard to find.

  • You didn’t contact them, they contacted you: They say that they “found your resume online”. They either offer you a job right away or say they want to interview you. Sometimes the scammers will try to entice you by saying that you made the cut and they are interviewing the finalists for the job.
  • You get the job right away. After a quick phone or Instant Message interview, the ‘interviewer’ immediately contacts you to offer you the job.

2. Vague Job Requirements and Job Description: Scammers try to make their emails sound believable by listing ‘job requirements’. Usually these requirements are so ridiculously simple that almost everyone qualifies: “Must be 18 years old”, “Must be a citizen”, “Must have access to the internet.’ (You wouldn’t be reading their email if you didn’t have internet access, right?) The ‘job requirements’ don’t mention years of education or experience. As a rule of thumb, if it’s a real job, the requirements will be quite specific.

Job Scam emails usually don’t include clear job descriptions, either. Many of my readers say that when they ask for a job description or list of job duties, they get the brush-off. The interviewer either ignores the questions or says something like “Don’t worry, we’ll train you.”


3. Unprofessional Emails: Some emails from scammers are well-written, but many aren’t. Real companies hire professionals who can write well. If the email contains spelling, capitalization, punctuation or grammatical mistakes, be on your guard. Here’s an example submitted by a reader:

“The Human resources have just reviewed your resume due to the one you posted on are now scheduled for an interview with the hiring manager of the company.Her name is Mrs Ann Jernigan,you are required to setup a yahoo mail account( and a yahoo instant messenger”

In this example, the mistakes include:

  • Capitalization errors — ‘Human resources’ should be ‘Human Resources’, and ‘yahoo’ should be ‘Yahoo’
  • Punctuation errors — Commas, periods and parentheses should be followed by a space
  • Grammatical errors — “Human resources have reviewed” should be “Human Resources has reviewed…”

4. Online interviews via Yahoo Instant Messenger: Yahoo IM is very popular with scammers. Many attempted scams say that the interview will take place online using Yahoo Instant Messenger or another instant messaging service. The scammers often include instructions for setting up a Yahoo IM account and contacting the ‘hiring manager’.

Tip: If you’re applying for an online job and you’re told that the interview will take place online via instant message, research the company and its representatives before you agree to an interview. And if you agree to be interviewed, ask detailed questions about the job during the interview. Don’t give out confidential information such as your bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers. Don’t be fooled just because the interview questions sound real.


5. Emails don’t include contact info or are sent from a personal email account. If the email doesn’t include the company’s address and phone, it’s a good bet that it’s a scam. And it’s a good bet that it’s a scam if the interviewer makes an excuse for using a personal email address by saying ‘the company’s servers are down”, or “the company is experiencing too many problems with spam” or “the company hasn’t yet set up its email system.”


6. Search results don’t add up. Before agreeing to an interview, do your research. If it’s a real company, you should be able to find information about the company by doing an online search. Finding information does not guarantee that the company is legit, but if you can’t find anything, you can bet it’s a scam.


7. You’re asked to provide confidential information. Some scammers ask for your bank account information to set up direct deposit or transfer money to your account, or ask you to open a new bank account and provide the information to them. Some scammers ask to use your personal bank account to transfer money from one account to another account.


8. They say they will send you money or valuables, or they want to use your personal bank account to transfer funds. Some of my readers tell me that they’ve received checks that look like real cashiers checks. They are instructed to deposit the check, keep some of the money for themselves and send the rest of the money to someone else via Western Union or MoneyGram. Then, a few days or weeks later, they get a call from the bank saying the check is fake.


9. They want you to pay for something. Legitimate companies don’t ask for money. If you’re told that you need to purchase software or pay for services, beware!

The best way to avoid scams is to do your research! There’s nothing wrong with asking a company to send you more information about the position you’re applying for. Follow your gut; it will not lead you astray.