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Is Your Job Offer a Scam? 10 Red Flags to Look For

job offer scam red flagsScammers are finding sneaky, yet creative, ways to steal from innocent job seekers everyday. If you’re not aware of some of their latest ploys, it can be extremely easy to fall into their traps. Job seekers need to be armed with the right information in order to prevent getting scammed. First, let’s define what a job scam is so you can fully understand how the scammers work.

What is a Job Scam?

A job scam is when someone poses as an employer or recruiter, offering employment in exchange for an individual’s confidential information (which is used for identity theft) or a sum of money masked as a cost of accepting the new position.

Where are Job Scammers Lurking?

Job scammers often solicit applicants to scam from inconspicuous sources like legitimate job boards, social media, and even on employer’s websites.

So while you might think you’re privy to spotting online scams, they’re often much trickier to identify. Watch out for these red flags to avoid getting scammed (and help you get closer to finding a legitimate career!):

No Interview Process

Job scammers are only interested in obtaining your personal information or money and not concerned with getting to know you and assessing your skills. They’ll typically fast track the interview process and even omit the usual steps a corporate recruiter or HR Manager would follow. If shortly after applying for a position you’re offered the job (with few questions asked), you might be on the brink of being a victim of a job offer scam.

No LinkedIn Profile

A reputable recruiter, HR Manager, or corporate executive could be anti-social media, but they’ll still have a LinkedIn profile. Do a quick search for the individual who has offered you the position. If you’re having trouble finding their profile, make a note that it could be a scam.

They’re Asking for Your SIN

According to Service Canada, under no circumstances should you be required to provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) on your application, during the interview process or before you are hired. And while it’s not illegal to ask for this information, it’s certainly not mandatory. Be mindful of when the recruiter is asking for your SIN and inquire how it will be used.

They Ask for a Money Transfer

A potential employer asking for you to pay them before you start is an obvious red flag.  In this scenario, cease correspondence immediately.

The Job Posting is on a Buy-and-Sell Website

Be wary of job postings on sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji. While many reputable employers do leverage these platforms to find candidates, there are many unreputable employers posting jobs as well. The websites are free to post on, giving scammers an opportunity to reach people at no cost. The poster can also remain anonymous through Craigslist or Kijiji, making it more difficult to trace a scam.

The Salary is Too Good to Be True

If the advertised wage is unrealistically high and a focal point of the posting, chances are it is a scam. Scammers attempt to draw victims in with attractive compensation promises.  Legitimate job postings will focus on the specific skill set that the candidate should possess and the tasks they will be expected to execute. In a legitimate posting, a salary or wage range may be included much further down on the posting, or not at all.

Unorthodox Method of Payment

Some job scams are money laundering schemes in which the ‘employee’ is sent a sum of money and instructed to distribute it to several different recipients but retain a portion as payment.  No legitimate employer would ever ask you to pay their bills using your personal account as a distribution hub.

Additionally, some job scammers will offer to pay the employee with different types of digital currencies, like Bitcoin. While some may be comfortable with this type of payment, it’s subject to fluctuating valuations which could mean you’re earning less than promised.

Unprofessional Emails

Most legitimate HR Managers or recruiters will take the time to ensure communication with candidates is professional, free from typos, and easy to understand. If the emails you’re exchanging with a potential employee are chock full of errors or vague, be cautious of these opportunities. Also be mindful of the time the emails are sent. While working around the clock may be the norm for a reputable HR Manager or recruiter, emails that come through in the middle of the night could indicate you’re communicating with someone across the globe and not actually at the company you’re seeking employment with.

Personal Email Address

If your potential employer is using a Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail email address, it could be a red flag that the job is a scam. A reputable business will have an email address that matches their domain. Look for addresses like humanresources@thecompany.com or a non-personal email address.

Company Has Little Presence on Google

If you’re feeling wary about the job posting or offer, a quick Google search should help you decide if it’s a scam or not. A company with very little presence could indicate that it’s not a real company at all. Look for a company website, social media profiles, a Google Business account, directory listings, and a Glassdoor page.

Still not sure about a job posting you’re interested in, or the interview process seems “off”? Make a checklist of each of these red flags and ultimately, go with your gut.

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