You’re searching internet job sites and have found a listing that’s just right for you: Good company, great pay, and you won’t have to move because you can work from home.
So you click the link in the listing and it seems to get even better: You’re taken to the company’s website, you fill in some basic information and then get an email saying they’re ready to interview you right away via a conference call and you don’t even need to send a résumé. Almost too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, most likely.
The FBI warns that this could be a scam, where tricksters post jobs on legitimate sites and link them to spoofed websites designed to look like those of real companies. Their goal is to trick you out of vital personal information that could end up costing you thousands of dollars, big headaches and no job.
How can you tell if you’re being scammed? What can you do to protect yourself?
If the pay and ease of getting an interview seem too good to be true, it very well could be.
Is the company advertising the same position on its official site or only on online job sites?
If you do a web search for that company, do multiple sites appear?
Do they contact you from an email address that doesn’t include the company name?
Can you find the name of the person you’ll be interviewing with on the company’s official website?
All of the previous warning signs should make you think twice about the possibility of a scam, but when it gets personal you should hit the brakes – and hard.
You should never have to give out your Social Security number, bank routing number or other personal information until after you’ve officially been hired. While those things are used for tax purposes and direct payments, scammers could use them to commit fraud or drain your accounts. And never, ever, give out your credit or debit card numbers. No legitimate employer needs those.
Don’t ever pay for anything – such as background checks, training, supplies or equipment – in advance, even if you’re told you’ll be repaid when you get your first paycheck.
Bottom line: Make sure your job search doesn’t turn into a costly scam.