As if you didn’t have enough to worry about during your job search—making sure your cover letter stands out for all the right reasons, ensuring your resume is flawless, and making a positive first impression in the job interview—you have to potentially contend with job scammers too. Knowing the signs of online job scams can help you have a safer job search and steer clear of scammers.
Here are six signs you may be dealing with an online job scam:
1. The Job Pays Way Too Much
Of course, everyone wants a job that pays well. But if a position is paying far more than it really should, that should raise a red flag. It doesn’t mean it’s definitely a scam, but it does mean you should err on the side of caution.
If you’re unsure of what the job you’re applying to should be paying, you can always do a comparison on sites such as PayScale and Salary.com. Then, you can get an idea of what the average compensation would be for this job type. Anything that is way beyond that figure could be a sign of an online job scam.
2. The Name of the Company Is Questionable
Many online job scammers know that job seekers are aware of their tricks. That’s why they sometimes do a copycat scam where they mimic an actual company’s name, but with a slight modification. For example, instead of saying the hiring manager is from Microsoft, they might say they’re from Microsoft Computer Inc. See the variation? Sometimes these can be easy to miss, especially if it’s a minor change, or if they switch up the spelling on a company’s name. Make sure that the company you’re applying to actually exists—a quick check online or via the Better Business Bureau can confirm if you’re dealing with a legit business or not.
3. You’re Offered the Job Much Too Soon
No matter what type of position you’re applying to, you’re most likely still going to have to go through at least a round or two of job interviews before getting offered the job. If an employer offers you the job solely based on your job application, be cautious. Although it might be a big ego boost to think that you’re that qualified for the job, it would be reckless for an employer to offer a job solely based on an application.
4. You’re Asked for Personal Information Too Early
This sign of an online job scam is a tricky one. After all, when you’re offered the job, you are going to have to submit your personal information (such as your address, date of birth, bank account information for direct deposits, etc.) as part of the hiring process. When it becomes questionable is the timing of it. If you’re asked for this type of information too early in the job interviewing or application process, it could be a scam.
5. There Are Grammatical and Spelling Errors
Luckily, for job seekers searching for flexible and remote jobs, job scammers can be a sloppy bunch. More often than not, their job descriptions have typos and other grammatical mistakes. Sometimes you might be able to tell that the wording is awkward or doesn’t make sense. While a spelling error here or there could be chalked up to a super busy hiring manager, that mistake combined with others grammatical goofs—and other signs of a scam—should make you wonder if you’re reading a real job posting or a phony one.
6. The Contact Information Is Not Professional
Any contact that comes from a company (whether it’s a recruiter, a hiring manager, or your prospective boss) should be professional. It should include the person’s name and the company’s name. Any emails that come from a personal account are a bit suspect.
Also, be wary if you see that the email address is similar to a professional one—but isn’t the same. For example, if the person’s email address is email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, it should make you question if you’re dealing with a real employer or if you’re in the middle of a job scam.