Although occurring much less frequently than they did a decade ago, remote job scams still occasionally crop up to try and steal the identities or monies of virtual jobseekers. Virtual Vocations has tips you can use to spot remote job scams and keep your information and bank account safe from scammers peddling fake WAH jobs.
Remote Job Scams: 12 Strategies for Spotting Fake WAH Jobs
Fake work-at-home jobs are not only a waste of your time but also a costly compromiser of your online security. When researching and applying to telecommute jobs, it’s crucial to learn to spot remote job scams and always remain aware of changes in technology that can allow for more sophisticated job scams to slip through your radar.
To help you conduct a telecommute job search free of remote job scams, we have assembled a list of 12 strategies that you can use to be sure every position you apply for is legitimate.
1. Search For Reviews
Many virtual companies rely on good reviews to help legitimize their services or products. Reviews help customers and potential employees discover what makes each company unique. They can also help you spot a shell company masquerading as a great opportunity.
Search for reviews on popular sites such as Google and Linkedin. If your query does not yield search results about the employer, this could be a bad sign. Although some small businesses do not have a particularly large online presence, you should be able to find at least some trace of their business if they operate within the telecommute space. Additionally, if you see many reviews claiming a job or business is a scam, avoid applying before you can verify the position.
2. Keep the Better Business Bureau in your Bookmarks
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) collects data about businesses including claims of fraudulent activities from businesses. Their Scam Tracker webpage is a great resource to use as a reference check when want to apply for remote jobs online. In addition to monitoring scams, the BBB also verifies businesses in their database and assigns letter grade scores based on a customer feedback, complaints, and reviews. If a business has a favorable rating on the BBB site, you can trust that it is a real business.
3. Never Give Information Up Front
You apply to what seems like the perfect remote job, only to be asked in a follow-up email to send information like your Social Security number, bank information, and full address. Don’t do it!
Unfortunately, hackers, scammers, and criminals all across the Internet use this tactic to lure in unsuspecting jobseekers into a web of identity theft. Guard your information cautiously.
As we discussed in our post “2 New Job Scams Affecting Telecommuters,” you should not be asked to provide sensitive personal information until you have interviewed with and been hired by a legitimate company. Typically, information requests like these are required when filling out tax forms or completing paperwork for a background check. In the case of a background check, you can often provide the last four digitals of your Social instead of the full number.
4. Be Suspicious Of Email Addresses Without a Clear Company Name
Reputation and branding are weighed very heavily in the remote work world. If you come across a business that emails you with a personal email from Hushmail or FastMail, you should give pause. Although some newer companies do use personal emails to conduct business, especially via Outlook or Gmail, they should be able to provide you with at least one company email domain address or contact.
Additionally, if the email username has a long string of numbers attached, it could be a fake account used for criminal activity. There are also scammers who pretend to be from a well-known business. You can spot a fake by going to the real company website and searching for the contact email address or an address of a member of the executive team. If the company address does not match that of the person emailing you, it is likely your “potential employer” is attempting to scam you.
5. Ask for a Link to Their Website
There may be times, even when following many of the strategies on how to spot remote job scams, when you still are not sure if a job is real. Usually, companies provide a link to their website within their company signature, but failing to do so could signal a red flag.
If you have a hunch but want to gain more information, ask for a link to the company’s website. A respectable company should have no problem providing you with a place to view more information about their work. If your request is refused, you should refuse any further contact with the employer.
Did you know Virtual Vocations makes it simple to research legitimate remote employers? Visit the Telecommute Companies Database for profiles of more than 10,000 companies known for hiring professionals to work from home.
6. Verify the Legitimacy of Their Company Website
Once you do visit the website of a potential employer, review it with a critical eye. If the web pages contain a variety of misspelled words, strange formatting or use a familiar company name like Best Buy or Apple, but do not offer the standard branding you are familiar with, they are likely part of a spoofed site.
Some scammers use real business names and information from company websites to trick people into believing the fake company is legitimate. This tactic is used against jobseekers and customers who fill out applications for or buy products from potentially dangerous hackers.
The new standard for websites is increased security for web addresses. If you find a site with a URL that shows “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS,” it could be less secure. This doesn’t necessarily mean the business is fake, but inputting your information into forms on non-HTTPS websites could, at least, put your personal data at greater risk of a breach.
7. Read All Job Requirements Carefully
One of the major giveaways of a job posting scam is the quality of the job description and requirements. When examining a job posting, remember the adage “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Look for details about what your daily responsibilities will be. Job postings should include information about the company and how the role fits within the larger services offered by the business. Details about education, experience, and skills should be addressed as well.
If you find a bare minimum posting with a number of short, awkward sentences with errors throughout, do not engage. It is not worth continuing to pursue this opportunity as it is most likely an example of a remote job scam.
8. Stay Away from Interviews Conducted via Instant Messaging
Although technology has advanced in amazing ways, making it possible for employers and job seekers to connect using a variety of online platforms such as video, messaging and cloud-based document sharing, during the interview process, it is standard to speak over the phone, through a legitimate company email or through video. If a potential employer wants to interview through IM on google hangout with no video, or Yahoo messenger, this is a bad sign. Consider applying for a different position or research the company more thoroughly before you continue with the interview process.
9. Trust Your Instincts
There is no substitute for intuition. Although you may not have all the information to be sure a job posting is a fake, if something feels off to you, it most likely is. As a remote worker, you must learn to trust your gut instinct. In the virtual space you are operating in a wonderful space of opportunity that allows for more equality and rewards based on performance over appearance. However, this environment also allows people to hide behind digital masks and commit fraud more easily.
Your experience will help teach you when you should block an email account or investigate a company more before doing business with them. It is often the small subtle hints that give scammers away, so don’t ignore that feeling.
10. Ask Questions
Asking questions is an excellent way to poke holes in a potential scam. If the job poster cannot or will not answer reasonable questions about the company, their products, services or the job posting itself. This is a sign it isn’t a real opportunity. If anything about the company structure or website is questionable, you have every right to inquire about these details. A legitimate employer will appreciate you asking questions to find out if you are a good fit throughout the hiring process. If your questions are not answered or answered vaguely with no follow-up, it’s likely not a business you want to move forward with.
11. Report the Scam
The remote work world is a community of professionals who share a common digital space as our office. It is our shared responsibility to let others know about scams and help our fellow telecommute jobseekers avoid the dangers of remote job scams. When you come across a fake posting, alert the site you saw it posted on and report the scam to the BBB. You can help get these postings removed and limit criminal activity impacting jobseekers.
12. Subscribe to a Respected Virtual Job Source
If you wonder how you’ll find legitimate opportunities for rewarding virtual work without the hassle of sorting through potential remote job scams, Virtual Vocations is your solution. Utilizing Virtual Vocations during your job search eliminates the stress associated with sorting through remote job scams. Each and every one of the thousands of job postings published to our Telecommute Jobs Database has been vetted by our trained, experienced staff. We also work directly with Employer Partners to help you secure the perfect job to fit your skills and schedule.
Don’t let remote job scams ruin your online job search. There are thousands of verified telecommute opportunities out there. You can find your dream job without having to stick to the traditional nine-to-five office position. Once you implement the strategies we’ve outlined above, you can feel empowered to search for telecommuting jobs with confidence knowing you have the upper hand on scammers.
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/scyther5; 2. iStock.com/stevanovicigor
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