Job Search Scams and How to Detect if a Job is a Scam

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With the Internet available everywhere, it’s totally possible to work online, at home, and make enough money doing so.

Unfortunately, the web is flooded with scams, and if you’re caught in one, you’ll find yourself working for free, or worse, paying to work. Here are some red flags to look out for when searching for a job.

The Wire Transfer Scam

We all know the Nigerian Prince scam. Some prince wants to send you millions, but you have to pay a fee to wire it over. However, there are wire transfer scams that are better disguised. If they require you to wire a fee to make money, it’s a scam.

The Unsolicited Email

You get an email from a supposed company offering you job, but you never applied to anything. Odds are, it’s a scam. Email services are becoming better about this, and do filter out these spam emails, but a seemingly legitimate offer sometimes slips through their defenses. Don’t fall for it.

The Pyramid Scheme

You probably have heard of a pyramid scheme, but may not know what it is.

Basically, you pay to join the company, (something you should rarely, if ever, do) and you earn money through recruits, who also pay to join. You may have to spend money on inventory, or various other irrelevant items, and odds are, you’re on the bottom of this pyramid, making little money, perhaps even losing some.

Pyramid schemes are illegal in the US. However, there are legitimate jobs with a similar style called multilevel marketing, where you’re selling a product and recruiting others as well. Pyramid schemes will have the too good to be true angle, while a legitimate business will have plenty of evidence that it’s legitimate.

The Reshipper

In this scam, you’re supposedly paid to receive packages and then ship them to an overseas location. These packages contain items that may be bought with stolen credit cards, and you’re the one smuggling them to the scammer’s location. Not only will you get no money from this, but it’s illegal.

The Social Media Scammer

If you see a post on Facebook or other forms of social media saying they’ve made thousands, and it offers a fishy link, it’s a scam.

Of course, there are scams that don’t meet any of the above. Here are some red flags that the job you’re looking at may be a scam.

It Sounds Too Good to Be True

work from home

The idea that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, is age-old advice.

You know these jobs. They may have slick production, showing a guy sitting around a mansion in front of a laptop, and claim you can be making thousands a week just by sitting in front of your computer for a couple hours each day. Odds are, this is probably a scam, and should be proceeded with extreme caution or avoided altogether.

Few Details on the Job Listing

One major red flag of a scam is their job listing doesn’t tell you what you would actually be doing.

The Listing is Riddled with Typos

There are clients whose first language isn’t English, but they’re not who we’re talking about. If this so-called big company that can give you thousands of dollars can’t even hire a proofreader and makes blatant typos and grammatical errors on their job listing, it’s probably a scammer.

Google Isn’t Giving You Anything on the Company

If you have the company name, Google it. You should find a BBB page, or something giving you more information. If this supposed company that’ll pay you thousands can’t even give you search results, then you may want to look back.

If you do get results, it may be from links assuring you that this company is not a scam. Sometimes, the scammer will try getting fake reviewers to make their company look legit, so beware.

They Require Too Much Information

No reputable job will make you enter your credit card or banking info to apply. Most applications will just need your basic info, not your social security number or your driver’s license. That stuff is reserved for when you fill out payment/tax forms.

They Interview You and Make You Work On an IM

If the entirety of your job is through Skype Messenger or some other instant messenger, you may be in a scam. Not all the time, but if you’re working and haven’t filled out any forms or contracts, stay away.

Use a Legitimate Job Search

The good news is that there’s a plethora of jobs out there. Use reputable local sites, national sites, and industry-specific sites to find them.

These make it easier to weed out the nonsense and find legitimate, paying jobs that you can apply for without handing over your credit card or wiring money to someone you don’t know.


Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.