5+ Common Job Scams in 2021 [& How to Avoid Them!]

3 November
9 min read

Did you see a job ad on the internet and thought that it’s too good to be true?

Well, chances are, it is.

Job scams are rampant all over the internet and anyone can be tricked into one.

Of course, scammers have always existed, but the ever-increasing use of technology has enabled them to get creative and affect more people.

Want to learn whether that work-from-home job you found is a scam, or actually legit? In this article, we’re going to teach you all you need to know about job scams (and how to avoid them).

Read on to learn:

  • 7 Common Types of Job Scams
  • 9+ Warning Signs of a Job Scam
  • 7+ Tips to Protect Yourself From a Job Scam
  • FAQs on Job Scams

7 Common Types of Job Scams 

Job scams have always existed in one way or another, be it in the form of a fake job ad in the newspaper, on TV, or on the radio. 

But with more and more people turning to the internet to find jobs, job scams have both moved online and become more frequent. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, 16,012 people reported being victims of employment scams in 2020, with losses amounting to more than $59 million.

As a rule of thumb, scammers are our for two things: 

  • Your money
  • Your personal information

But they use many ways to get to them. That’s why we have compiled a list of the most common types of job scams to help you identify them. 

#1. Work-From-Home Job Scams

Generating income from the comfort of home has always been appealing to job-seekers worldwide…

And job scammers know this.

That’s why one of the most common job scams is placing ads (often online, but scammers could always reach you by phone, or text) that promise great pay in exchange for work from home. 

Work-from-home job scams have been around for decades, but statistics show that job scams increased during the COVID-19 crisis, as many Americans were left unemployed and needed to work from home. 

These types of scams seek to take your money in various ways, such as by making you pay enrollment fees, for training, or for useless certifications, among others. 

Some examples of fake work-from-home job offers include: 

  1. Stuffing envelopes, which involves signing up by paying a fee to stuff envelopes from home. The only commission you may ever receive, however, is by signing others up to pay the non-refundable registration fee.
  2. Reselling merchandise, which involves buying luxury products less than their retail price and reselling them at a higher price.
  3. Data entry scams that, unlike legitimate data entry jobs, promise great pay but require an upfront registration/training fee.
  4. Reshipping scams, which consist of receiving packages at home, getting rid of the original receipts, repackaging the products, and reshipping them. However, the “employer” never sends you a paycheck.
  5. Rebate processor, a job that promises high income for processing rebates from home for a non-refundable training fee, but actually involves placing ads online and getting a small commission every time a product gets sold.
  6. Assembling crafts/products, where the company hires you after paying the enrollment fee and purchasing the products’ materials, but later rejects the finished products.

#2. Emailed Fake Job Offers

Another popular job scam is receiving a job offer through email. 

The email usually comes from a “recruiter/employer” who claims they found your resume on a job board, or that you applied for the position (and you’re the perfect candidate!). 

Although you might not remember applying (because you didn’t) and the sender’s email might not ring a bell, you could still be tempted to accept the offer. 

Now, the types of fake jobs offered via email are countless but, generally, the scammer will ask you to provide personal information such as:

  • Your driver’s license (which lets them know your birthday)
  • Your Social Security Number (with the pretense they need it to hire you)
  • Your bank account information (“to transfer your paychecks”)

Once they have such sensitive information, they could harm you in various ways, from stealing your money all the way to stealing your identity. 

#3. Fake Jobs on Social Media

Since 53.6% of the population uses social media platforms, they’ve become a popular place for scammers to share fake job ads. 

Commonly, they create Facebook pages or LinkedIn profiles to advertise fake job opportunities, but real accounts can also be advertising fake postings. 

And although both platforms try to block both fake profiles and fake job ads, sometimes, some slip through the cracks.

Twitter is another social media platform that’s not entirely guarded against fake or real accounts advertising fake jobs. For example, job scams can be shared around Twitter through shortened URL links (bit.ly or ow.ly) that lead to unverified sources outside of the platform. 

When it comes to job scams taking place on social media, it’s important to always verify the recruiter/employer’s social media account is legit. 

For example, if the account on Twitter has a small number of followers, it’s most likely a fake account. Similarly, if you google the employer’s name and more than one profile comes up, you have reason to be cautious. 

#4. Government and postal service job scams

Some job scams work by promising a job with the federal government or the US Postal Service (USPS). 

However, if the website/employer asks you to pay a fee to get the job or to pay for study materials so that you get a high score and qualify for the position, the job offer is a scam. 

All federal jobs are free to apply for, so if you hear or see the contrary, you have reason to be cautious.

Want to know, for sure, if a federal job ad is legit? Only apply for federal jobs on the following websites:

Quick Tip

Looking to land a federal job, but not sure where to stop? The first step is to create a convincing federal resume. Learn more with our article!

#5. Job Scams on Verified Job Sites

Even verified and popular job search sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Craigslist are not 100% immune to fake job ads. 

These kinds of job sites work by collecting listings from company websites, recruiting agencies, newspapers, or by companies uploading job offers directly on the platform. But, although the job boards might be verified, the employers and job offers are not always. 

And yes, scam job ads are present even on the paid job boards, so don’t let your guard down.

#6. Job placement service scams

Another common type of job scam involves scammers impersonating job placement services such as staffing agencies, headhunters, etc.

Thankfully, spotting such scams is pretty simple.

Headhunters or placement professionals (the ones that come to you with an offer, anyway) will never ask you to pay for their services.

In such cases, it’s always the employer that foots the bill.

So, if a job placement service asks for money for a job offer, chances are, it’s a job scam.

#7. Fake Employment or Recruitment Websites

At times, scammers go as far as to create fake employment or recruitment websites. 

This type of job scam can be harder to spot than the rest, particularly because some of these sites do a good job passing as legitimate recruitment sites. However, in reality, the job offer or recruiter doesn’t really exist outside of the website. 

Usually, this type of job scam will ask for sensitive information such as your SSN or your bank details under the pretense of a pre-screening, or to start depositing your paychecks immediately. 

Quick Tip

Have you found a legitimate job but you don’t know how to get started writing the resume? Check out our guide on how to write a resume to make things easier! 

9+ Warning Signs of a Job Scam 

Now, although job scams come in many forms, there are still some warning signs that can help you identify one. 

So, if you notice any of the following when you receive an offer or see a tempting listing, then it’s most likely a job scam: 

  1. You are contacted through non-company email domains and teleconference applications (e.g. an actual IBM recruiter would contact you using a company email such as johndoe@ibm.com, as opposed to johndoeibm@gmail.com
  2. You are required to purchase start-up equipment from the company, such as is the case with assembling products work-from-home job scams. 
  3. You are asked to pay a non-refundable registration fee. 
  4. You are required to provide your bank account information (before you start working). 
  5. You receive an employment contract to sign in advance, asking for Personal Identifiable Information such as your SSN and your bank details.
  6. Job postings appear on job boards, but not on the companies’ websites.
  7. Your potential employer is using a slightly altered website, such as www.2micro-soft.com and not www.microsoft.com 
  8. The email or job ad is full of errors and the job description and requirements are vague.
  9. The potential employer shows a sense of urgency to hire you, such as listings that hire immediately, or within the same week of application. 
  10. The job requirements apply to literally any candidate but offer very good pay.
Quick Tip

Finding a good job that you enjoy can be challenging. Our article listing 35+ essential job search tips could make the process much easier for you!

7+ Tips to Protect Yourself from a Job Scam 

Unfortunately, you can never be 100% safe from job scams—no matter how familiar you are with the different types and the signs they come with. 

After all, scammers are constantly “re-inventing” job scams, but you might also find yourself in a position where you really need a job and fall prey to a scam. 

For this reason, any time you come across a listing that seems sketchy, make sure that you: 

  • Do an online search. Google the company, the employer, or the recruiter, and see what pops up. For example, if you get emailed a job offer from say from a random name claiming they’re a recruiter, search up their name online (or on LinkedIn) to see if their claim stands. 
  • Talk to someone you trust. If you come across a job offer that just seems too good to be true (e.g. it promises great pay in exchange for minimal skills), then show the listing to someone you know and trust. They might give you a valuable second opinion on whether it’s a job scam or the real deal. 
  • Don't pay for the promise of a job. If you are required to pay for a job, it’s guaranteed to be a scam. In normal circumstances, you can’t just pay for a job - you have to deserve it. So, if you get an offer saying you can just pay for a position, you can rest assured it’s a scam. 
  • Connect with the company. Did you see a job offer on social media supposedly from a company? Don’t take everything at face value. Shoot the company an email asking if the offer is legit or, at least, check the company’s website to see if the listing is there. If the job opening is real, it should definitely be on the website. 
  • Never agree to a wire transfer of any sort. Wire transfers are common among thieves. They consist of moving money quickly from one account to another and it’s almost impossible to recover those funds. So, if you get an email supposedly from a company executive asking you to wire money for lack of an easier payment method, that’s your sign that it's a job scam. 
  • Reject job offers that require no experience. As we said before, a job that pays any decent amount of money will require a certain level of knowledge or experience in the field. So, if the job offer promises decent/easy money for an easy job, it’s probably a no-no. 
  • Don't agree to provide your bank details to a potential employer. Obviously, you will need to provide sensitive information such as your bank details to your employer eventually. However, no legit employer will ever ask for your bank details before you actually settle into the job.  
  • Don’t interact with potential employers who urge you to act fast. A typical sign of a job scam is when the scammer urges you to act fast to “seal the deal” and give them your money or your personal information. A normal hiring process takes at least 1-3 weeks, depending on the company procedure. So, any employer who guarantees a super fast hiring process is guaranteed to be a scammer. 
  • Don’t accept an offer when you didn’t apply. Sometimes, scammers will contact you out of nowhere, saying you’re hired for a job that you didn’t apply for. This is, of course, a scam.

Do you still have some questions about job scams? We’ll answer them here!

Q — 

#1: How Do I Know a Job is a Scam?

Job scams come with several warning signs. Here are some of the signs you should keep an eye for when you’re on a job hunt

  • You are required to purchase start-up equipment from the company. 
  • You are asked to pay a non-refundable registration fee. 
  • Job postings appear on job boards, but not on the companies’ websites.
  • The email or job ad is full of errors and the job description and requirements are vague.
Q — 

#2: How Can I Avoid a Job Scam?

To avoid a job scam, do the following: 

  • Do an online search. Check if the recruiter, company, or job ad is legit.
  • Reject job offers that require no experience.
  • Never agree to a wire transfer of any sort.
  • Don’t interact with potential employers who urge you to act fast.
Q — 

#3: What if I Sent Money to Someone Who Promised Me a Job (But Never Delivered)?

If you fell victim to a job scam, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

So, if you paid e potential employer or provided your SPI to someone you don’t know well, you can either call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or file a complaint online here.

Q — 

#4. How Do Job Scams Work?

Job scams happen when criminals deceive victims into thinking they got a job, or by promising them a job posing as employers/recruiters. 

Scammers take advantage of their authority as potential employers and ask that you either provide them with your personally identifiable information (PII) or straight-up transfer money.

Key Takeaways 

And that’s a wrap! We hope that you found the article on job scams helpful. 

Here are the key takeaways of the information we just covered: 

  • Job scams consist of criminals posing as employers/recruiters reaching out to victims with a fake job offer and require their money or personal information, such as SSN or bank details. 
  • The most popular types of job scams include work-from-home scams, emailed job offers, fake jobs on social media, government and postal service job scams, job scams on verified job sites, job placement service scams, and fake employment/recruitment websites. 
  • To protect yourself from a job scam, make sure to do research on the company, talk to someone you trust, reject any offer that asks for your money and sensitive information, or promises you great pay for only a little professional experience.