Recognize a job scam: fake listings and shady hiring

Anton P. | January 26, 2023

A job scam can involve fake job posts and demands for personal data or money. Usually, fraudulent job offers will seem too good to be true.

The hiring process has transformed over the last few years. It takes place online, and many open positions are for work-from-home jobs. Unfortunately, scammers might ruin your job search with scams. 

So, you should learn to recognize a job scam and protect your time, money, and identity.

A job scam can trick you into revealing highly sensitive information or send money to bogus recruiters.

Is there a job scam risk?

The risk of encountering a job scam is high as many companies find new people via online postings. People could pretend to be recruiters of known companies or ask for advance fees. 

Users can receive fake job offer emails, offering attractive job opportunities. People also report job scams via WhatsApp or Telegram.

Other factors enable job scams and direct job offer texts: 

  • Millions of people look for a new job opportunity each day. 
  • The remote hiring processes enable applicants to cheat during interviews or fake resumes. 
  • Digital job sites and social media platforms let scammers message more people. 

Our research also shows that people lost $68 million to job scams in 2022 Q1.

What makes a job a scam? 

A job scam means job seekers face fake job postings or unnecessary requests. Usually, job fraud will include some of the following traits: 

  • A job does not match the job description and expectations. 
  • A job promises a salary higher than trends on the market. 
  • Recruiters demand personal information from candidates. 
  • Companies ask to cover background checks, work devices, or training fees. 
  • A job scam can also try to infect devices with malware via dangerous links and files. 

Exploring common job scams on Indeed and LinkedIn

Job scams on Indeed, LinkedIn, and other job sites continue to grow. Scammers could create fake Indeed or LinkedIn profiles to contact potential targets. Our research also suggests that Millennials and Gen Zers are the ones to most likely to fall for phishing scams.

Job scams and identity theft 

Many job scams can be after candidates’ personal information. That might include: 

  • Full names;
  • Home addresses;
  • Credit card information;
  • Email addresses; 
  • Social security numbers; 
  • Phone numbers. 

Fake recruiters can exploit shared personal details, like committing synthetic identity theft

High salaries with low barriers to entry

Postings can require little to no experience in the field. Such a scenario hopes to attract as many people as possible. 

Recruiters offering the job on the spot

Job seekers know that hiring processes take a long time. However, job scammers can congratulate you on getting the position immediately and mention weird conditions, like additional fees.

Companies asking for advance fees

A job scam can require money transfers to cover various expenses. Fake recruiters can make many excuses, like processing or equipment purchases. 

Job scams requiring candidates to buy equipment

Scammers might require devices like iPads or laptops that candidates must purchase themselves. Then, scammers instruct applicants to send devices for proper setup and software installation. 

A fake candidate job scam

Headhunters can get resumes filled with fake prior positions and skills. Applicants might even hire people to go through the hiring process on their behalf.

Ways for recruiters to detect fake resumes early on during head hunting: 

  • Read applications and CVs carefully to spot potential red flags. Protocol described a revealing experiment on how attentively recruiters inspect candidates’ resumes. Many companies appear to use automation for filtering applications. 
  • If a resume includes many in-demand skills, be cautious of its truthfulness. 
  • Meeting candidates in person will prevent them from fabricating their interviews or experience. 
  • If candidates supply references, check whether they are genuine. 

How to identify job scams

Modern recruitment prompts both headhunters and applicants to be on their guard. A related threat refers to unemployment benefit fraud, which users could also experience.

Here are some general tips for recognizing job scams and fake postings: 

Recruiters should be more attentive to candidates 

It includes explaining to applicants that the company has zero tolerance for lying. Such statements can ward off some of the fake candidates. 

Legit companies are unlikely to use instant messaging platforms

Recruiters can find you on LinkedIn or other job platforms. However, headhunters will rarely chat with candidates via Telegram or WhatsApp. 

Notice red flags in recruiters

Are HR representatives being pushy and failing to answer basic questions? Scammers may not be incredibly professional, and interactions with them seem odd. Furthermore, there might be no company’s website or general information on its owners.

Indeed or LinkedIn scams and malicious links

According to our research, emails claiming to be from LinkedIn manage to tempt many users. A swooping 47% open rate indicates that most targets are curious about job offers. So, be wary of emails coming via LinkedIn, Indeed, or other platforms. 

Never send money or equipment to companies

Respectable companies will never ask you for advance fees. Also, they would not force you to buy work devices and promise reimbursement later. 

How to report a job scammer

  • You can contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about job scams you find. Send reports online or by calling 1-877-382-4357 phone number. 
  • Filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center is also a possibility. 
  • Contact your bank provider if you have shared your bank details with job scammers. 
  • The Better Business Bureau also accepts complaints about suspicious job offers.

Indeed and LinkedIn platforms also have forms for reporting suspicious jobs. Whichever job site you might use, report job fraud to their representatives.

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.



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