How to Protect Yourself from Job Scams

Make sure you know how to steer clear of fraud when searching for a job.

Laura Adams, MBA,
Episode #139

Even though the economy shows signs of modest improvement, the job market could limp along in the U.S. for several years to come. Unfortunately, when the unemployment rate rises, so does the occurrence of scams that target unwitting job seekers. Yes, hunting for a job is even more complicated now as opportunistic scammers try to rip you off to make a fast buck! In this episode I’ll give you some pointers about how to recognize and protect yourself from job scams.

Why Job Seekers are Vulnerable to Job Scams

Let’s face it. Looking for a job can make you very emotional. Months of being without work and experiencing one rejection after another could make anyone desperate. If you’ve been searching for a job for a long time, you’ll do almost anything to get your life back on track and improve your financial situation. It’s just human nature to be hopeful about an opportunity that sounds perfect. You’re simply more vulnerable to being duped by a scam when you’re stressed out and worried about your future.

Resumes are Revealing

The tool you use to promote yourself when you’re job hunting--your resume--is also a tool identity thieves can use to harm you. Think about all the personal information you might put on your resume: your name, address, telephone numbers, birth date, e-mail address, and lots more. Of course you should never list your social security number or driver’s license number on a resume. Here’s a quick tip: Consider eliminating unnecessary personal information from your resume such as your home address. Instead, include your desired work location, such as “the Miami area”. You can also create a unique e-mail address that’s just for your job search activity.

Watch Out for Online Job Scams

One of the reasons that job hunting scams are becoming common is because a majority of employment searches are done online. Many job “opportunities” are simply bait put out by identity thieves. Crooks post phony jobs to lure you in and steal your personal information. I did two podcasts earlier this year about how to avoid identity theft. If you didn’t hear them, I urge you to listen to shows 121 and 122.

Know When You Shouldn’t Give Out Your Personal Information

Be wary of getting hired quickly online or over the phone, and then being asked to go to a website to complete the hiring process by submitting your social security number, bank account info, and driver’s license number. That’s a criminal’s dream--you’re spoon-feeding them all your top secret personal information. Once a scammer has your data, they can rip you off by opening a credit card account in your name or even taking out a car loan in your name, for example.

Only give out your personal info once you’ve met someone from the company in person or have had several phone calls with a representative who you can verify is a company employee. If you doubt the legitimacy of a company, ask them for references. Speak to their vendors, employees, or customers to verify their claims and make sure they’re genuine. If you think a company is trying to con you, report them to the Federal Trade Commission by going to ftc.gov and downloading a complaint form.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show. 


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