While employment scams are technically nothing new, they’re becoming far more prevalent. The number of fake job opportunities that specifically target tech workers is increasing rapidly, aiming to capitalize on the recent layoffs in the tech industry.
In many cases, job offer scams unfold in very similar ways. As a result, it’s possible to identify various red flags that indicate a job opening is fake. Here’s what laid-off tech workers and other professionals considering job searches need to know about fake job offers.
Signs of a Fake Job Offer
There are many signs that could indicate a job listing or subsequent offer isn’t legitimate. One is a salary far beyond industry norms. Often, high pay rates entice candidates to apply and may blind them to other issues within the job ad that would otherwise be red flags.
Another red flag is a lack of information about the company. Within the tech world, it’s relatively easy for scammers to pose as recruiters from new startups, hoping that candidates won’t be as concerned about the low level of available information. However, reputable companies typically have a reasonable online presence, even during their early startup stages.
Issues with a company’s website or a representative’s email address are other bad signs. Whether it’s a low-quality website created for a fake company or a copy of a creditable company’s site that aims to trick candidates into believing it’s the real deal, there are often problems that indicate scams. Poor spelling and grammar, inconsistencies with the branding, discrepancies with the URL or email domain names, and similar issues are all red flags.
Many scammers also conduct interviews using non-traditional platforms, such as instant messengers. In some cases, this approach is designed to mask the identity of those behind the scam. Creating new instant messenger accounts is simple, and specific platforms offer a degree of anonymity, further protecting those behind the scam. Plus, a text-based interview means the candidate doesn’t hear the interviewer speak.
Scammers may also request sensitive personal information – such as Social Security numbers or banking details – incredibly early in the process. Generally, trusted companies don’t require that information until well into the hiring process, so requests during initial interviews or on the application are potential signs of scams.
Finally, any request for upfront payments is usually indicative of a scam. Being asked to cover the cost of a background check, work-related equipment like a laptop, or anything else is common among scammers. They’re hoping to get some of your money (or steal sensitive financial data, like credit card numbers) before you realize the job isn’t real, so any request for cash should give you pause.
How to Avoid Job Offer Scams
Avoiding job offer scams requires a bit of diligence. First, research is your ally. Spend time looking for information about the company using reliable sources. Never click links inside of any messages you receive that seem questionable, as those may lead to malicious sites or websites designed to trick you.
Take a close look at any URLs or email addresses within messages. While you don’t want to click on links, hover your cursor over them to see if what is displayed matches what you expect. Look for misspellings or formatting differences that indicate the email addresses or URLs aren’t genuine, too.
If you are approaching the interview phase of the process, be wary of any company that only conducts interviews via secure messengers. If the representative refuses to participate in a phone or video call, that’s a red flag.
Finally, be cautious of any unsolicited job offer or request to apply. Unsolicited job offers are usually related to scams. With requests to apply, do some research before moving forward, allowing you to confirm it’s genuinely from the company involved.
If you’d like help conducting a job search to ensure you avoid scams, The Squires Group wants to hear from you. Contact us today.