Blog > Job Search

Recognizing and Avoiding Job Scams

Posted by Abby Thompson | September 12, 2023

Recognizing and Avoiding Job Scams

As if the job search process wasn't difficult enough, seekers in 2023 need to take extra precautions when applying for jobs and taking interviews.

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the job market internationally, required many companies to transition to remote-first models, and moved interviews to Zoom and video chats. This decentralized approach has allowed employment fraud to skyrocket.

Per the Federal Trade Commission, financial losses associated with job scams have increased by 110% in just two years -- from $174.2M in 2020 to $209.1M in 2021, and finally to $367.4M in 2022. 

What are job & employment scams?

Fake job posts are published on popular job boards, using both real and fraudulent company names, advertising career opportunities that do not really exist.

Sometimes these job opportunities are connected to organizations that are very obviously not real, and the job description itself may send up red flags.

But frequently, legitimate (and often well known) company logos and domains are used, the description is well-written and in-line with industry standards, and recruiters are mentioned by name within the post to add credibility.

Employment scams are run most frequently to collect personal information and to steal money, using fraudulent job posts to capture the attention of job seekers.

How can you avoid job scams?

It can be difficult to know for sure if you're about to apply or interview for a fake opportunity, but doing your research and remaining aware of red flags is absolutely critical.

Do your research.

  • Contact a member of the company, ideally someone on the hiring team, about the role. They'll be able to see the listing internally or ask the appropriate person to verify if it's legit.
  • Check the company website to see if they've issued any statements about fraudulent job listings published on their behalf. Navigate to their 'Careers' page to see if the same role appears.
  • Run a Google search for "company name + scam" to see if others have encountered suspicious or deceptive activity.
  • If someone contacts you about a role you do not remember applying to, make sure you confirm the title, company, and date you applied with your own records. A legitimate recruiter won't mind you responding to ask for more information about the role they're interviewing for.
Job scams are more pervasive and convincing than ever before.

Red flags on job descriptions:

Remember that fraudulent job descriptions are sometimes REALLY convincing, and you may not even realize you've applied for something illegitimate until you start the interview process. Here are major red flags to look out for:

  • The job application requires you to provide OR asks you to email private information to someone on the team -- this includes Social Security Numbers, a photo copy of your ID, your birthday, banking or financial account details.
  • The job post includes typos, lacks important information about the company and/or the role expectations/qualifications, or is obviously copy and pasted from another source.
  • The company name is spelled incorrectly, uses different capitalization or punctuation (ie "BankofAmerica LLC" instead of "Bank of America Corporation").
  • Email addresses and URLs don't match legitimate company domains (ie "[email protected]").
  • You cannot find the same job on the company website or Careers page.
  • The company doesn't appear to have any employees on LinkedIn, or their 'People' tab is full of incomplete profiles.
  • You can't find business bureau reviews or online records of the company besides a LinkedIn profile.
  • You're not sent a confirmation email after you've applied, or the email address domain doesn't match the company URL.

Red flags during the interview process:

  • The "recruiter" only wants to speak to you via chat, email, or text interview.
  • You're only given one interview and then extended an employment offer.
  • Company representatives never come on camera during remote interview sessions.
  • You're sent a check to cash for "home office supplies".
  • You're asked to send money to the company for any reason.
  • You're asked to agree to a background or credit check immediately. If necessary, you will be told that this is part of the offer stage early on, and you will only be asked to convey information to a verified and secure 3rd party vendor.
  • The interviewer asks you questions that make you feel personally uncomfortable or unsafe.

What to do if you give information to a scammer:

First, try not to place too much blame on yourself if you end up falling victim to a job scam. These can be incredibly sophisticated and are designed to look authentic.

Take these steps if you sent money to a fraudulent actor or if your identity has been compromised through a job scam:

  1. Stop contacting the people or person you've been communicating with.
  2. If you sent money, immediately report the transaction to the bank or payment app that you used. In many cases, you can cancel the transfer of funds.
  3. If you provided login information to websites with confidential information, change all passwords and delete accounts when necessary.
  4. If you provided your SSN to a scammer, follow these instructions from the SSA. If you're concerned about identity theft, report it to the FTC at
  5. Report all job scams to the Federal Trade Commission.
  6. If a real company name was used, contact multiple team members to let them know about the fake post.

Stay safe out there, job seekers. Advocate for yourself and your safety. Remember that real employees and recruiters will understand if you need additional verification. And, most importantly, don't let fear of job scams keep you from putting yourself out there.

Join weekly Job Search Office Hours with the Prentus team to learn more about staying safe during the job search process.
Click here to sign up for free.

You might also enjoy

Ultimate Job Search Guide for Career Changers
Job Search Cover Letters Career Changers Bootcamps Portfolio Resumes LinkedIn

Ultimate Job Search Guide for Career Changers

From refining your application materials to networking, finding best-fit roles, practicing your skills, and ensuring a healthy mind set -- tackle the job search process with confidence.

Posted by Abby Thompson | October 30, 2023
Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile Post-Bootcamp Graduation
Job Search LinkedIn

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile Post-Bootcamp Graduation

From profile basics to helpful and recruiter-friendly optimization tactics, career changers and bootcamp graduates need to revisit and update their LinkedIn profiles. Start with this helpful guide.

Posted by Abby Thompson | September 12, 2023