Protect Yourself Against Job Scams

As the unemployment rate rises so does the number of job search scams. Identity thieves are taking advantage of peoples’ desperation to find work. They know that people may not be as skeptical as they would under better circumstances and are more likely to fall for an easy path to financial security. But you need to be on guard and think about what you are doing- if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. The last thing a job seeker needs is to have their identity stolen.

So, to assist you in keeping your identity safe we are going to enlighten you with some of the job scams that are out there and tips on how to not fall victim to them.


The goal of a job scammer is to trick you into giving it to them your personal information so they can steal your identity. Some of their techniques are: sending e-mails containing a link to a website they created that offers jobs or money making opportunities, posting bogus job postings on a legitimate job search site, and sending e-mails with job offers that allow you to work at home and/or get rich quick.

Most of the time these scams look like legitimate job offers or money making opportunities. Some sites have professional picture, videos and testimonials. That shouldn’t surprise you when you consider that the scammers are professional con artists. So, remember, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. "Work From Home!" is not a job description and should not be in the title of a job offer. But it sure is tempting bait.

How Scammers Get Your Info

Scammers don’t get the info they need to steal your identity just by leading you to a website or sending you an e-mail. You have to actually give it to them. So, once they get you to their site they have you fill out a job application that asks many things that you would expect to see on a job application. However, there might be some information that you wouldn’t expect to give so early in the process – SSN, permission to run a background check, or bank account info. This should be a huge red flag! An employer should not ask for these things on an application and ordinarily don’t. Employers don’t need any of that information until they have decided to hire you and they would probably interview you before they do that, so there is no need to give that information on an application.

How to Protect Yourself

The last thing you need while searching for employment is to have your identity stolen. Here are some precautions you can take to avoid such a misfortune:

  1. Keep your cash. No legitimate employer needs your money or bank account information. Some schemes have you deposit money in an off shore account and wait for the investment to make good. You won’t ever see that happen or hear another peep from the employer. Other employers say that they need to test your account for direct deposit eligibility by depositing some money into your account and then taking it back out. If an employer can take money out of your bank account expect to get cleaned out.
  2. Don’t give out your SSN or give permission to have a background check run. An employer doesn’t need these things until they decide to hire you. And it is safe to say that an employer will meet with you at least once before hiring you. Giving up your SSN or allowing a background check is all an identity thieve needs to ruin your life.
  3. Don’t fall for the flashy headlines. "Work from Home!" "Make Money While You Sleep!" While these are ways that everybody would love to make money it doesn’t really happen. Also, beware of generic job descriptions that don’t give specific job duties and that don’t ask for a resume. A legitimate employer will want give some sort of job description and job requirements. They will also want a resume.
  4. Withhold information on your resume. Consider leaving your mailing address and phone number off of your resume. A potential employer won’t be mailing you anything right away and may not need to you call initially either. But an identity thief could use this information to harm you. Do provide an e-mail address so that an interested employer has a way to contact you. You may even consider creating an e-mail account specifically for job searching. This way if an identity thief gets the e-mail address your regular e-mail account won’t get spammed.
  5. Miracles rarely happen via e-mail. Again, if it seems to good go to be true, it probably is. People from other countries are not going to pay you to work at home. And that job that promises you enough money to buy a mansion on the west coast is going to take you for all that you have. Miracles do happen, but not through spam. The safest thing to do with these kinds of e-mails is to just move them to the trash. Don’t try to "unsubscribe" as this link is can lead to more spam.
  6. Become Sherlock Holmes. Take the initiative to do a little digging and research about the employer offering a job. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to look. Companies are listed with the BBB by being a member or receiving complaints. Granted, not every company is listed with the BBB, but a poor rating should be a red flag. You can also do some other searching online to make sure they have a real physical address.
  7. Say no to third party e-mails. When you sign up for e-mail newsletters from legitimate companies decline receiving e-mails from their third party affiliates. This will help cut down on spam and decrease the chances of your information getting in the wrong hands.

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Author: Richard Patterson

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