How to avoid scams while job-hunting online, according to career experts (2024)

Landing a job has become more difficult, even while the labor market may look robust — and it's a situation that scammers are eager to exploit.

It's a big enough issue that federal agencies like the FBI and Federal Trade Commission have issued warnings about job scams.

One common scheme: Swindlers who pose as recruiters and contact you unprompted — including on job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn or even through WhatsApp messages — to entice you with a job opportunity you didn't apply for.

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Then, they may ask you to send them money or personal information, according to Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TopResume. Or they might claim that you first need to complete their training course or coaching services to be eligible for their job opening in a predatory attempt to sell you their products, she says.

While real recruiters do often reach out cold to potential hires, there's a key difference between them and the grifters: "They're straightforward with you," says career and leadership coach Phoebe Gavin.

Here are ways to spot and protect yourself from a con while job-hunting.

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Be skeptical if the job looks too perfect

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If a job posting "seems too good to be true," it probably is, Augustine says.

That includes openings promising to make you a lot of money fast. In those "get-rich-quick" instances, "run for the hills," Augustine cautions.

Be wary if a company is quick to offer you a position without going through the standard vetting procedure. A legitimate process should require at least one interview, even if it's only over the phone, she says.

Still, an interview doesn't guarantee the role is above board. Scammers sometimes hold phony interviews using text chat and video messaging to obtain your personal information without blowing their cover, according to ZipRecruiter. Some duped job hunters have taken to social media to share their experiences with fake interviews.

LinkedIn blocked more than 63 million fake accounts during the second half of 2023, according to its most recent community report. The platform also removed more than 108 million pieces of spam and scam content over the same period, per the report.

The job site is "committed to ensuring the platform remains authentic, secure, and easy to use for members," said Oscar Rodriguez, LinkedIn's vice president of trust product management, in a statement.

Ultimately, if a recruiter reaches out to you for an unusually attractive job you haven't applied for, "you need to be especially suspicious," Augustine says.

Question vague or nonexistent job descriptions

Sometimes a disguised fraudster will insist they can't provide any details because a job posting is confidential. But generally, if a company can't produce a copy of the job description, that's a big red flag, Augustine says.

Some companies make executive-level job openings confidential to high-profile applicants at first, but they will begin disclosing more details about the role as the interview process gets underway.

"If you are not at a director level or above and someone is approaching you for a confidential listing, it's probably a scam, because there isn't really much reason for a company to be cagey about hiring an individual contributor or a manager-level position," Gavin says. "It's those senior-level positions that can have some PR consequences if it is known that they're doing a search."

For job openings that have no reason being kept so tightly under wraps, a formal job description should be handed over upon request, Augustine explains. You should also watch out for job descriptions that are "really vague" and fail to offer enough information about the job title, location, key responsibilities and qualifications.

A job description riddled with typos and errors can also indicate a scam. Because of new tools powered by artificial intelligence like ChatGPT that can fix grammatical issues in text, however, Augustine says this clue is becoming less prominent.

Check the company's online footprint

You should be able to locate a company's digital presence, Augustine says. That could be a LinkedIn profile, website or social media page.

"Even your mom-and-pop ice cream shop has a Facebook page these days," she says. "If there's absolutely no digital trail about this company, or it's really, really sparse when you're running some Google searches, I would be concerned."

Ask a prospective employer to direct you to their website — where you can also see if the job listing is posted — and double-check any links you receive to make sure they don't route to a phishing website, Gavin suggests.

Exercise caution if a recruiter is not using a corporate email address, Augustine says. You may find third-party recruiters who use a Gmail account, but internal recruiters typically have a company email address, she notes.

Also, watch out for communications from email addresses with misspellings or "spoofed" company names that are similar but slightly different from the actual business name, according to Indeed's guidelines for a safe job search.

If you're still unsure whether a company is legitimate, Augustine suggests searching the company's name along with the word "scam" on Google. That search may turn up a history of dishonest activity if it's an illicit enterprise that has struck before.

'Take your time' and don't get discouraged

The stress and urgency of job-hunting can encourage the most sensible people to let their guard down and rush into a sham deal. But it's important to slow down when someone reaches out with an opportunity, Gavin says.

"Take your time ... If it's a legitimate opportunity, it's not going to disappear in an hour. They're not going to find candidates, interview them, offer them, negotiate them and sign them in an hour," she says. "It is in your best interests and it also costs you nothing to take the time to verify that it's a real person working on behalf of a real organization."

Augustine recommends keeping track of all the positions you apply for. Some scammers will try to convince you that you already applied for their role and capitalize on your disorganization to trick you into their hiring scheme.

Despite rampant risks online, Gavin advises her clients not to let fear win out.

"You can decide that you're not going to let fear of scams keep you from leveraging LinkedIn, because it is the most important recruiting tool on the internet right now," she says.

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How to avoid scams while job-hunting online, according to career experts (2024)


How to avoid scams while job-hunting online, according to career experts? ›

Be skeptical if the job looks too perfect

How can you prevent being scammed when looking for a job? ›

Here are some practical tips on how to avoid falling prey to job scams:
  1. Check for known red flags. ...
  2. You are asked to divulge personal information. ...
  3. Never pay money! ...
  4. Too good to be true. ...
  5. Do your research & check with credible sources.

How to avoid scams? ›

Avoiding Scams and Scammers
  1. Do not open email from people you don't know. ...
  2. Be careful with links and new website addresses. ...
  3. Secure your personal information. ...
  4. Stay informed on the latest cyber threats. ...
  5. Use Strong Passwords. ...
  6. Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs.

How to tell if an online job is legit? ›

Do your due diligence by looking the company up on LinkedIn or looking through the list of employees on the website. Don't hesitate to contact the company to verify whether or not you've been contacted by a real employee. Most of all, never give out personal information through texts or private messages.

How can I work from home without being scammed? ›

Read every remote job post and description thoroughly. Avoid jobs that seem too good to be true or that ask for your personal information. Ask your network. Let your network know that you're looking for remote employment.

What advice would you give someone on how to avoid getting scammed? ›

Never send money to someone you don't know or trust. And remember - your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN or password or ask you to transfer funds for fraud reasons. If anyone comes to your door, make sure you check their ID. Don't let anyone in if you don't want to.

How to prevent being trapped by a scammer? ›

8 things you can do to avoid being scammed
  1. Be suspicious. ...
  2. Don't trust unexpected contact. ...
  3. Do your research. ...
  4. Resist demands to act quickly. ...
  5. Keep your computer virus protection up to date. ...
  6. Never open attachments or click on links in emails if words or images make you feel unsure about the sender.

What is the golden rule of avoiding scams? ›

Be suspicious of all 'too good to be true' offers and deals. There are no guaranteed get-rich-quick schemes. Don't agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to get independent or legal advice before making a decision.

What are 3 excuses a scammer uses? ›

Romance scammers will encourage secrecy and will influence you to only trust them. They may try to isolate you from your family and friends. There will always be an excuse why they can't meet in person or show themselves on camera. They say they live overseas or somewhere remote, or their technology isn't working.

How do I stop getting scams likely? ›

If you get a scam likely message or a similar warning like “suspected spam” or “spam risk” on your caller ID during an incoming call, don't answer it. Even better, block the caller. Several major carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless offer scam block services for free or for a small monthly fee.

How do you know if a job site is safe? ›

While anyone can fall prey to job scams, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe while you search online:
  • Do your homework. Research the company and the people who contact you. ...
  • Connect with the company. Go directly to the company website and see if the job is posted on their jobs page.
  • Trust your gut.

How do I make sure someone is legit online? ›

Go to Google and do a reverse image search of their profile picture. If it's associated with other names or comes up on a stock image site, it's a scam. Once you know they're fake, report their account to the dating site or app you're using.

How do you verify an employer is real? ›

  1. Legal & Financial Documents: Look for public records or shared documents to verify their legitimacy.
  2. Licensing: Confirm necessary licenses or registrations.
  3. Incorporation Certificate: Validates the company's legal status.
  4. Employee Credentials: Genuine companies have staff with real credentials.
Oct 5, 2023

How do you catch a job scammer? ›

Here are some signs that job offer may be a scam: Scammy recruiters will email you from a personal email, not a company account. Recruiters will generally email from their company (, not a personal email like or Scammy recruiters push you for money.

How can I avoid being scammed online? ›

Check out these seven ways to prevent, identify, and fight online scammers before you start shopping online.
  1. Watch out for the 'Too Good To Be True' Scam. ...
  2. Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card. ...
  3. Check out as a guest when possible. ...
  4. Don't use the same password for every account. ...
  5. Research new and sketchy websites.

Will Amazon really pay you to work from home? ›

$21 (Median Total Pay)

The estimated total pay range for a Work From Home at Amazon is $18–$24 per hour, which includes base salary and additional pay. The average Work From Home base salary at Amazon is $21 per hour.

How do you know if someone is scamming you for a job? ›

What to look for to determine if a job is a scam
  • The recruiter contacts you. ...
  • You receive a job offer right away. ...
  • The pay is extremely high. ...
  • The schedule seems too flexible. ...
  • Job requirements and description are vague. ...
  • The company requires payment from you. ...
  • The job promises that you'll get wealthy fast.
Jan 31, 2023

How do you protect yourself if you think you have been scammed? ›

You think a scammer has stolen your personal information

Complete a report through ReportCyber. Make yourself a harder target: Secure your social media and other personal accounts, such as your email. Change the passwords to any other accounts you think the scammer may have accessed, or to which they now have access.

How do I make sure my job is secure? ›

10 Ways to Increase Your Job Security
  1. Learn New Skills. ...
  2. Be a Team Player. ...
  3. Up Your Productivity. ...
  4. Stay Current on Your Company's Concerns. ...
  5. Build Relationships. ...
  6. Volunteer for New Responsibilities or Projects. ...
  7. Ask for Feedback. ...
  8. Document Your Successes.
Mar 7, 2024

How do you stop a scammer from scamming you? ›

Protect Yourself from Scams
  1. You should warn your friends and family about scams.
  2. If you are not sure that you're being scammed, stop sending money. Scammers will keep asking for more money until you stop.
  3. If you have sent money or shared your banking details with a scammer, contact your bank & police immediately.

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