Imagine just getting through the interview process and being hired on for a position. It pays exceptionally well, and it seems like a great career opportunity. You get to work from home, and there’s excellent opportunity for advancement. The job almost seems too good to be true. Is it?
These days, (relatively) instant electronic communications systems like email and chat have made it so people can work-from-home, while still being perfectly able to perform all of the functions a worker would perform if he or she visited an office building each day. Working from home has become more and more popular over the past decade, and industries across the board — public and private — have begun to see the benefits of allowing employees to work from their own home office setups. These benefits come in the form of reduced overhead costs, higher retention rates, and perhaps even happier and more productive employees. So this mutually beneficial arrangement is often just that: a set up that benefits both parties.
Sometimes, however, that job opportunity that sounds too good to be true really is a nothing more than a hoax that’s designed to entice job seekers into shelling out money, working for free, or into giving away personal information. Scammers have invaded the job search market, so much so that agencies like the FTC and the FBI warn against such scams, and 83% of job seekers have some level of concern about job scams.
FlexJobs is a job search database that specializes in work-from-home positions, and other flexible work opportunities. Because FlexJobs screens each one of its jobs before posting it on its website, the job database has an idea of just how many scams are out there and it has provided a few red flags we should all look out for during a job search. Check out these signs on the following pages.
The company contacted you out of nowhere
If a prospective employer contacts you via LinkedIn, or via another social network, and it seems completely out of nowhere, this may be a sign that something’s fishy. Now, some legitimate employers do find talent through social media, but when and if you communicate with a legitimate employer, the interaction will seem legitimate — they shouldn’t tell you to quit your current job without notice or ask you for anything unreasonable. Most prospective employers will also let you know exactly where they found your resume (for instance, indeed, FlexJobs, etc.) and will not contact you out of the blue when you never even indicated you were job seeking.
FlexJobs spoke with a recent victim, who told the following account: “I gave up a work-at-home position with a reliable paycheck because I was contacted by someone through my LinkedIn profile. The company offered me a much better paying position and requested I leave my current position and start there the following week. I did as they requested. I worked for them for 2 weeks and 2 days…and then out of nowhere they said they decided to ‘go in a different direction’ and let me go. They NEVER paid me—they owe me over $1,000 and won’t respond to my calls or emails.”
The company only interviews you through email and chat
Even in this day and age, it’s actually pretty rare to secure a legitimate job opportunity strictly though IM or chat. If a company contacts you through your chat profile, or it only conducts interviews through chat, you may want to be extra cautious and request a phone interview. It’s an even bigger red flag if the person on the other end writes IM or email messages containing any of the following:
- A lot of grammatical errors or excessive punctuation (for instance, “Are you looking for an entry-level work-from-home position??” or “Now hiring for 10 open positions!!”)
- Information that’s against traditional HR policies (like their age, etc.)
- An immediate hiring decision
- A request for any payment or banking information
Not too long ago, the FTC had to return money to around 90,000 people who were the target of a work-from-home scam. The scam offered a work-from-home job search kit, supposedly for only a $4 shipping fee. The product promised customers they could earn $100,000 in six months. It neglected to inform consumers, however, that they would be charged an additional $72 or so per month upon disclosing their account information.
Any time someone (or something) offers you a large amount of money in return for a small upfront investment, or promises that you will “get rich quick,” this is almost always a scam. These scams have been around for a long time, only now the internet has provided scammers with a larger pool of people to target.
The company’s URL and contact info seem shady
Some scammers pose as well-known companies, advertising work-from-home positions for companies that are household names. But when you look at the company’s website, it looks kind of funny (like cnbc4newsworld.com/ instead of cnbc.com, for instance). Other times, the only contact info you have for the company is an anonymous form or generic email address.
In these cases, it’s wise to keep your eyes wide open during the entire process and also, conduct extensive research. Google the company, the position, and details about the position. If the results show any scam alerts or consumers who are calling this company out as a “scam,” you may just have your answer.
The job search process can be tough and scammers only make things more difficult. But, if you remain diligent, the right position will more than likely come along after a while. For more information on job scams, check out the FlexJobs press release or visit the FTC’s Scam Alert website.