February 21, 2014

Stay Safe While Job Hunting: Job Scam Warning Signs

Underwater scene of a businessman taking the baitIn 2014, there’s a lot more to job hunting than simply spell-checking your resume and proofreading your cover letter. Not only does job hunting in the current economy require effort and perseverance, it also requires a certain amount of wariness.

The many challenges of today’s economic climate include the unfortunate abundance of scammers aiming to take advantage of individuals who are desperate to secure employment. Job scams can range from attempts to steal victims’ personal information and commit identity fraud to luring the victims into unknowingly engaging in illegal activity.

Here are some of the warning signs to look out for:

Requests to submit your financial information. If an interviewer asks for things like your bank account routing number or credit card information, you should immediately recognize it as a red flag. Do not provide this information, because the request could be an attempt to steal your identity and commit fraud. Once you are employed, your employer may ask for your bank account routing number for direct deposit of paychecks, but there is no reason that an interviewer should need this information while you are applying for a job.

  • Requesting payment. There is no reason why you should have to fork over any money during the interview process. If an employer is asking you to pay an upfront cost for any reason, you should be extremely suspicious. You should also be wary of any job-placement firm that requests money. Most legitimate placement services require employers to pay a fee, but employees should not be asked to pay anything.
  • The interviewer wants to meet in a private place. According to HomeSecuritySystem.com, you should keep your personal security in mind whenever you schedule a job interview. You should always meet an interviewer in a public place and you should be immediately suspicious of an interviewer who wants to meet outside of the company’s office or in a private location.
  • Receiving emails from a non-company email address. Hiring managers should send you emails from their business address, not from a personal account like Gmail.
  • The offer is for a previously undisclosed federal job. According to the FTC, all federal government positions are publicly announced on usajobs.gov, so you shouldn’t believe anyone who advertises a federal job that supposedly hasn’t been posted before.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. If an employment offer seems just too perfect to be real, it might not be real at all. Proceed with caution if you come across a position that requires no prior experience, claims you can work from home full-time or offers a salary that seems unusually high.

Be careful about getting personal

Many job applications will ask for your Social Security number. While state laws vary when it comes to what information can be included on a job application, some employers require your Social Security number and some companies may not even consider your application if you don’t list it. However, one thing to be mindful of is who you are giving your SSN to throughout the job seeking and hiring process.

If you can avoid giving out confidential information (like your Social Security number) to potential employers until you are actually being considered for a job, you won’t risk having your personal information getting into the wrong hands. Never email your Social Security number to anyone, including potential employers. Avoid giving out your home address, marital status and any other sensitive personal information, too.

When it comes to sharing other’s personal information – like from a previous job – www.fins.com strongly advises to never share confidential information you have about a previous employer. It shows a perspective employer that you can’t be trusted with sensitive information and could even possibly lead to a lawsuit with your former employer.

To get a job, you’ll need to do the work

Of course, phenomenal jobs do exist and people find great opportunities online every day. But these ideal scenarios are more the exception than the rule, and they usually require extensive experience and a rigorous interview process.

Read more in Job Search Advice

Elle Aldridge is the editor for HomeSecuritySystem.com. She has two young boys and when not chasing them around she loves to write about safety and security. Follow her on twitter @ElleEAldridge.