Teens and younger adults are often targets of job scams, and it’s easy to see why – what with not being as familiar with the norms of job-hunting and filling out applications, they’re less likely to notice when something isn’t normal. Scammers post attractive job ads, then ask for personally identifying information that they can use in identity theft schemes. They may also ask for banking or credit card details to “verify identity”, then make withdrawals or charges. This is why education about job application safety is so important. In addition to the possibility of losing money from fraudulent bank transfers or credit card charges, identity theft can affect a person’s credit score, potentially affecting their financial standing for years to come. And of course, while a person is spending time on fake job ads, they may be missing out on real opportunities.
It’s always a good idea to research a person or company before sending them any identifying information. Be aware of what legitimate companies actually ask for in a job application, and avoid any offer of employment that requires some kind of upfront payment before the worker can begin earning. You should also keep an eye out for misspellings or bad grammar in job ads or websites offering employment. While anyone can make a typo, actual professionals usually catch and edit these kinds of errors quickly. And of course, remember that any opportunity that sounds too good to be true probably is. If they’re offering a lot of money for seemingly little effort or investment, they’re probably not on the up and up.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a real job posting online and a scam posting. After all, scammers tend to advertise job openings in the same places legitimate employers do – online, newspapers, etc. But, if you brush up on job application safety and watch out for these red flags, you can easily start to spot the real from the fake.
1. No work? No money. You should not cash any checks or accept any money if you haven’t done any work. Job scammers often say they will pay you in advance for miscellaneous items like office supplies or personal items. These checks are not real and they will bounce. If you are unsure, you can always go to your bank and have them confirm the authenticity of the check.
2. Share your info wisely. Applying to many legitimate jobs online requires you to provide a lot of standard information, like your address or Social Security number. However, you should always check to make sure the site you are using to apply is secure. Make sure the URL of the application begins with “https,” and use caution when giving your information through email or over the Internet or phone.
3. Stay organized. Some scammers will post a job under a legitimate company’s name, but then contact you as a different, fake company in the hopes you just won’t remember all of the jobs you’ve applied to. Keep a notebook or spreadsheet that lists each position and company you send an application to and don’t respond to anyone unfamiliar.
4. Do your research. If someone reaches out to you from a company you’ve never heard of, do a quick internet search to check them out to see if others have been scammed by them. Also, keep an eye out for people who do not have a company domain name in their email address, but instead use a free email service (e.g., XYZ@companyname.com vs. XYZ@gmail.com).
5. Be wary of chat room interviews. If the employer does not want to meet you face-to-face (whether in person or over video), this is good sign that the job is a scam. In addition, they’ll most likely hire you on the spot during the chat interview and ask for your bank account information right away. Never give this information out over an internet chat room.
6. Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pay attention to the pay rate you are being offered and compare it to similar jobs in your area. If they offer to pay you $30 an hour to answer phones at home because their office is under construction, let this be a red flag.
If you have any job application safety tips you’d like to add, feel free to put them in the comments. For more information about Internet safety for teens, click here.
Boston Tutoring Services