Red Flags: How to Avoid Job Scams While Looking For Work

how to avoid job scams

So you’ve spent weeks combing job listings and sending out applications, awaiting replies. Then finally, a company expresses interest in hiring you. At first the opportunity seems almost too good to be true. In today’s competitive world, that could actually be the case. Work scams are on the rise, with fraudsters using increasingly sophisticated tactics to take advantage of eager job seekers.

While their methods keep evolving, this blog post will reveal some telltale signs that should set off alarm bells and how to avoid job scams. Keep your guard up and watch out for these common red flags that signal something suspicious. If anything seems off, trust yourself—it’s not worth risking your personal information or money on a sham. There are legitimate jobs out there, so keep at it and don’t get discouraged! With vigilance and skepticism, you can spot a fake work ad or a fake job offer from a mile away.

Common Tactics Used in Job Scams

Job scams prey on people’s hopes and desperations. Be aware of these sneaky tactics:


Never click links or download attachments in unsolicited emails. Scammers phish for personal and sensitive information to steal your identity.

Too good to be true

Be wary of extravagant salary promises or a remarkable job description, especially for no experience. If it seems too good to be true, it might just be.

Demand payment

Legitimate employers don’t ask to be paid upfront for training or equipment. Don’t send any fees, purchases, wire transfers, or your banking details.

High pressure

Scammers create a false sense of urgency to get you to hurry before you have time to think. Take your time and do your research.

Location independent

Be suspicious of “remote” jobs with no interview. It’s likely a front for a scam. Insist on checking the work site or at least have a video interview.

Requests for personal information

Legit employers will have you fill out an official application and conduct proper background checks.

Vague descriptions

The details on job duties, requirements and advancement opportunities should be clearly defined. Be wary of listings using overly broad, non-specific language to describe the role.

Staying vigilant and trusting your instincts can help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud. If something feels off, it’s best to skip. Your time and money are too valuable to waste on empty promises.

Verify the Posting and Company

So now that you know what to check for, what do you do if a company seems off? Well — Scammers often prey on vulnerable job seekers. Before getting excited about your employment, make sure that it’s authentic.

Start by do some digging to confirm that it is a legitimate company and a legitimate employer. Research online for their official company website, look at the web address and their social media profiles. Call them directly and ask to speak with the hiring manager listed on the job posting. If you get vague answers or the runaround, that’s definitely red flag. Double check that the details in the job posting match what the company actually has available on their official website’s careers page. Scammers often lift job descriptions from real companies to appear legitimate.

Protect Your Personal Information

Once you’re definitely sure that a posting is a job scam, protecting your personal information is essential to avoiding job scams while searching a job board. During your job search, never give sensitive details to anyone unsolicited or unverified. A legitimate potential employer will not ask for sensitive data like your Social Security number or bank account information until you’ve formally accepted an offer.

Social Security

Guard your social security number closely. Legitimate employers won’t ever ask for it upfront in the hiring process. Only provide it once you’ve accepted an offer and are filling out official onboarding paperwork.

Bank numbers

Under no circumstances should you provide access to your bank accounts. Scammers may claim they need it to deposit your first paycheck or for a “trial period”—don’t fall for it.


While some jobs may require identity verification, be wary of providing images of your driver’s license, passport or other government IDs to anyone who reaches out to you unexpectedly. These contain lots of sensitive data that can be used for identity theft and fraud.

Wire transfers

As mentioned, legitimate employers don’t ask candidates to wire money. Ignore requests for wiring funds for “equipment,” or “training fees.”

Staying alert and keeping your personal details private will help ensure you’re interacting with authentic job opportunities, not letting scammers to profit from your wallet. Report any suspicious job listings to the appropriate companies and to organizations like the Better Business Bureau or Federal Trade Commission. Working together, we can fight back against these scams.

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