Learning how to spot fraudulent email job/employment offers
"Scammers are always looking to find ways to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers, especially people who are in a vulnerable situation with fraudulent job/employment offers. However, you can take steps to avoid being scammed."
By Allan R. Kirby
What is a Job / Employment Scam
It's a sad reality but scammers are always looking to find ways to make money or steal personal information from unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately, It can hit the most desperate at the worst time. Scams come in many forms but one that seems to be expanding is Job / Employment scams in which thieves try and pose as a recruiter or HR manager from a legitimate company with the goal of taking money or personal information from you.
Job / Employment scams have always been around but are becoming more prevalent and easier with the rise in social media, job boards, and professional networking sites, such as Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and Glassdoor. These sites offer professionals a quick and easy way to build a network of like-minded professionals as well as search for new employment opportunities. And for the most part, there are good intentions on the part of prospective employees as well as employers, however, there is, unfortunately, a small group whose only goal is to steal.
There will always be scams
Unfortunately, employment is a problem that will never go away, no matter how hard online platforms try to curtail scams. It will always hit those that are venerable as well, people who are desperate to get a good job, and in the excitement of being offered something, they let their guard down which is what scammers are looking for.
Personal Email Addresses or ones trying to mimic a legitimate company.
One of the most common job/employment scams that I have seen is through email, whereby the potential victim receives an unsolicited job offer, in some cases, the emails are elaborate with a company logo and contact information that seems to be legit. However, you need to be careful, especially if you never applied or had contact with the company. It just takes a few seconds to download and copy a corporate name and logo onto an email to make it look professional, then just add a real person's name and title, and the scammer is set. Now, this may start to worry you, however no need to as we will explain what to look for to help you flag any potential fraudulent email job offers.
Tip #1 Never applied to the job being offered? Then be careful and ensure the offer is legit.
To prevent yourself from being scammed, you do need to take the time and ensure any offer received by email is legitimate.
Check the senders' email! - First and foremost always check to see who the sender is, if you see a @gmail.com then you do need to be careful. Many legitimate small businesses do use free Gmail for their business, but major corporations do not, they will have their own domain name. Additionally, corporations will not have HR staff send job offers through personal emails. Scammers may use a fake name and google account to send fake job offers and just provide excuses as to why they are using personal email for job offers but the fact is, corporations do not allow this.
Lack of details, for example, you receive an email where the company is interested in hiring you but they provide no information about the job, expectations, and why you have been chosen. A legitimate company will provide details, but if you have never applied to the company then be suspicious.
What happens if the email requires you to provide personal information and/or money, DELETE THE EMAIL. You should never have to pay a company in advance to get a job, it makes no sense.
Tip #2 Legitimate companies do not have staff use personal emails to corespond with potential candidates.
To help you a little I am providing a fake email opportunity that I received recently.
URGENT JOB PROPOSAL
How are you today. Your work Experience was reviewed by the management of company XYZ, through LinkedIn recommendation. I am reaching out to see if you are currently keeping your options open for remote part/Full time opportunities if the hours were flexible and the money was right?
Note: Company XYZ is not the actual company name.
This is not a legitimate offer:
There is no proper introduction or no reasoning why I was picked other than a recommendation, but from who?
No information about the type of job opportunities being offered.
There is nothing said about the company, what it does, its location, etc...
Some grammar errors can happen, but this email lacks professionalism and the errors are obvious this not what I would expect from a corporation.
The email received was from a personal email and not from the company itself. I also did a quick check of the personal email on google and could not find anything, yet another red flag. I did check the company and found it was legitimate but they have their own domain emails. The contact information on the legitimate companies website did not use @gmail.com.
I could mention a few other issues, but I think you get the point, no reputable company is going to send a short two-sentence job opportunity, So what did I do, DELETE. The reality is a recruiter or manager is going to contact you from their corporate email, they will never use Gmail or any other free email service as a way to provide job opportunities.
Tip #3 Never pay money to get a job, reputable employers will not ask employees to send money or make a payment in advance.
Other signs an email job offer is a scam
In addition to poorly constructed emails, fake or altered corporate information, as well as unusual job, offers through personal emails. You need to watch out for job offers such as:
An urgent Job offer that you never applied to which, requires no experience. Almost all jobs do require some basic experience and skillsets, especially ones that require you to work for major corporations. I have been hiring staff on and off for over 20 years, I can tell you there is no way you will get a job offer, especially an unsolicited one without having some skillsets and experience required to fill the position.
Payment is required to get the job. This is the most common sign that the job offer is a scam, plus this is the point of the scam, to get money from you. I have never been with an organization that requires you to provide upfront money for a job. No matter how convincing it is.
Sensitive information is required. This is yet another red flag when you are being asked to provide sensitive personal and banking information before you have even started the job or discussed the offer. If you receive a job offer, especially an unsolicited offer asking for sensitive information, just delete the email.
Urgent job offers, with limited time to apply, is another common sign that the job offer is a scam, it's designed to make act before you can think about the offer. The faster a scammer can get personal information or money, the better for them.
High Pay work from home job offers. With Covid-19 the world has changed and there are more opportunities to work from home with good pay. However, scammers are looking to take advantage of the work from home by offering high pay, low hours, and little skills required. When a job is too good to be true, especially for job offers you never applied to, then it's more than likely a scam.
Tip #4 Never heard of the company providing the job offer? then investigate the company, it may be a scam, exspecially if you never applied.
Unfortunately, I only touched on a few things to look for when receiving a job offer through email. But I wanted to mainly highlight that you do need to be careful and watch out no matter how good the offer is. Some fake job offers such as the one I highlighted are easy to spot, but more elaborate emails can make it more difficult. Some scammers will even go as far as creating fake LinkedIn accounts claiming to work for the company until you dig a little further and find this is not the case.
This is a MySmallBank.com blog written by Allan R Kirby, who writes and produces investment and personal finance articles and videos.