Close to 20% of remote job-seekers have been a victim of an online job scam, a 2019 FlexJobs survey found.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions to work from home, the level of job scams has only grown. Especially seeing as 2020 saw a 65% boost in remote workers making over $100,000 USD a year.
Have you ever fallen for a job scam? Not to worry – today we’re going to cover how you can avoid them, and spot the tell-tale signs of remote job scams.
How to avoid remote job scams
Dodging online job scams is a mix of two things: cybersecurity, and knowing the signs. Before we dive into how to spot one, let’s briefly cover the importance of cybersecurity for remote workers.
Cybersecurity for remote workers
Working from home will require you to hand over personal information at times. Scammers look for this sensitive data, often regarding identity and finances.
Threats you can avoid with good cyber hygiene include:
- Malicious links;
- Malware and other viruses;
- Wi-Fi snoops;
- A range of large-scale attacks.
While browsing or working, the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is highly recommended. You can try a VPN download for free on a trial basis in only a few clicks.
Source: Jenny Ueberberg
7 common signs of a fraudulent job offer
Cyber protections shield you from the more malicious scams out there. However, the trickiest of job scams rely on social engineering tactics. Let’s take a look at the tell-tale signs of an online job scam.
#1. Too good to be true
Does a job posting tout “low work, high rewards”, or “no interview required”? Chances are you’re looking at a scam. Fraudsters rely on the promises of big cash rewards and over-the-top perks.
Scammers post jobs for a much bigger budget than necessary. The thought of huge hourly wages makes anyone excited. This is what causes victims to fall into the trap.
#2. Asking for private details
Pushy clients who request your personal data are an obvious red flag. Many scammers fish for any private details they can use to steal your identity. Beware with whom you share the following:
- Personal email address;
- Date or country of birth;
- Copies of I.D.s, passports, etc.
- Passwords or bank details.
#3. Just a “one-time fee” to work
“We can’t wait to have you join our team. Before we get started, we’ll require a refundable deposit of $600 USD for the laptop and headset.”
Stay away from these scams – you probably figured out you won’t be seeing that money again. A common sign of a remote job scam is the requirement for a down payment before work begins.
#4. Will provide payment after “x” volume
Is an employer offering payment after “x” amount of successful work? This has been a common scam on remote work sites for decades. Once you complete your quota, your client may just disappear entirely.
This happened to Marcus Ramos in October of this year when his employer vanished upon fulfilling his assignment. After a month of receiving, relabelling, and resending packages, his client booted him from their website without payment.
#5. Glaring grammatical mistakes
Perhaps the most obvious sign of fake job postings is simple grammatical and spelling errors. How coherent is the job post? Are there major details missing? These are all signs of a scam.
If your prospective employer communicates poorly or avoids specific questions, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.
#6. Lack of professionalism
A client’s manner can tell you about their intentions. Over-aggressive or impolite employers could be pushing you for information. Another red flag comes when you see their work email address.
Personal addresses like “email@example.com” point to a lack of detail that legitimate businesses rarely miss. Communicating via WhatsApp and Facebook also shows a lack of professionalism and is likely an indicator of a scam.
#7. Ultimately, trust your gut
The remote worker’s most vital tool is their gut instinct – develop and trust that uneasy feeling in their stomach. If your spidey senses are tingling, there is likely a reason. Look for some background information on the employer and investigate further.
With enough experience, you’ll be able to spot a scam from a mile away. Until then, your best friend is your expert intuition.
Online job boards have grown immensely over the past few years, drawing the attention of countless scammers.
Being cyber secure and knowing the signs to watch out for will protect you from the majority of online job scams.