Nearly 39 million Americans have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 crisis struck the nation three months ago. With this unprecedented level of unemployment, fraudsters have set up shop on job-seeking websites.
Falling victim to a job scam has never been easier. Scammers are known to create official-looking websites and email accounts to convey a sense of reliability and trust to potential victims. Many of these bogus job vacancies are listed on popular websites, and with remote work in high demand, applicants may have a hard time spotting the scam.
If you are in search of a job or simply browsing for one, here are the top warning signs to look out for:
• You did not apply for the job – scammers will contact you saying that they found your resume online. In many cases, they will offer you the job right away or wish to interview you.
• The job opening is above your pay grade – fraudsters entice victims with a too-good-to-be-true paycheck. No experience needed and flexible hours will be promoted in the ad.
• You’re hired right away – after just a quick phone call or video call interview, a so-called HR specialist immediately contacts you to offer you the job.
• Job descriptions are vague – as a rule of thumb, always ask for details regarding jobs you apply for. Scammers often avoid providing additional information regarding the advertised position, claiming that training will be provided.
• Grammatical errors and unprofessional emails — most of time, the devil is in the details. Pay attention to the email or job listing before applying. While some job communications might seem well-written at first, emails often contain spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes.
• Bogus email addresses – inspect the email address of the person or company who is hiring. Check if the email address was already reported for fraudulent activity.
• You are asked to provide sensitive personal information – fraudsters will ask for your bank account information to set up direct deposit or transfer money to your account. In some cases, you can be asked to open a new bank account or fill out a credit report form on another website. This way, the scammers will steal your personal information such as Social Security Number and other key information.
More than $40 million has been lost to coronavirus-related scams, and financial losses are expect to rise even higher this summer. Be wary of what websites you use and never provide sensitive personal information to individuals contacting you online about jobs. Do your research on the company that is hiring, and report any suspicious activities to local authorities.