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Making money online has gone from just small side hustles to getting hired by reputable companies for a remote position. While this is a great thing in general, spotting online job scams can prove tricky at times. In this article, I’ll show you how to spot and avoid online job scams.
Remote work is becoming the new thing, and why wouldn’t it be? You can get to work from the comfort of your own home, make your own schedule, and avoid some of the expenses associated with a traditional job (i.e. Gas money, parking costs, meal costs, etc.)
On the flip side, as more and more people look for online jobs, more and more con artists arise as well!
It can be quite scary and overwhelming to scour for online jobs when there are hundreds of mischievous, tech-savvy scammers out there.
The statistics on online job scams are quite scary, I must say! The Better Business Bureau Risk Report shows that the riskiest scams out there are employment scams, with scammers taking advantage of new technologies and trends in the job market – such as moving to work-from-home and otherwise online jobs.
The thing is, scammers have become quite savvy little weasels! They prey on your desperation for some income to pay the bills. Sure, there are some that you can tell from a mile away, but then you have the sneaky ones who find clever ways to impersonate real professional recruiters and fleece unsuspecting job seekers out of their money!
With this in mind, and because I too have been a victim of these scams (no, you’re not alone), I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on how to avoid online job scams.
Set up Your Mindset:
When you’re looking for jobs (online or not) while feeling desperate or just mentally overwhelmed, it is easier to overlook small details that would otherwise jump out as red flags.
Remember: Scammers prey on your emotions and feeling of overwhelm!
Here are some tips on how to set up your mind to think objectivity and better spot the red flags:
Have a clear and objective mindset when looking for online jobs. Don’t search for jobs when you’re feeling down or stressed over pilling bills.
Take a break and make sure you can take your mind off the money stress. Once you’re clear-headed, it will be easier to spot the tail tale signs.
It’s also essential to always start from a place of doubt. Meaning, when looking for jobs online, you need to have your critical thinking hat! You know, that one that goes “Yeah, right! That just sounds fishy” (okay, that’s more like a cynical hat).
Use Your Common Sense
Evaluate each job opportunity with some good old common sense. Look at the other side of the coin and ask these questions:
- Is the pay rate too high for the amount and type of work described?
- How will the company/person make any money by paying that specific rate?
No one is going to pay a complete stranger without it making financial sense to them and their business! They’d only do that if they’re hiring friends or family, and even then, it’s unlikely.
The point here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is! Cliché, maybe, but very accurate in most cases.
Once you have the right mindset, be on the lookout for the following telltales of potential scams:
Online Job Scams: Red Flags
1. Grammar and spelling errors.
A typo here and there is normal, but if you see too many spelling mistakes, or worse, grammatical errors, chances are it’s not a legitimate job.
Because legitimate companies would invest in someone to write and proofread job posts to avoid mistakes and sounding unprofessional.
2. High pay for little to no work.
People! At the end of the day, getting paid to do nothing is neither feasible nor fair!
Anyone who wants to pay you money to do nothing clearly has something else in mind!
Be highly vigilant of these kinds of promises. This is where having a clear mindset is helpful to pick up on this giant red flag – if you’re desperate, you’ll be too focused on the income prospect to notice that it simply it’s too good to be true.
3. The company/recruiter is requesting your personal information.
Proper hiring does require some information to be exchanged between both parties. However, that’s usually the very last stage in the hiring process, and only if you are, indeed, hired.
Plus, with the advent of PayPal and some other methods of online payments, you shouldn’t be sharing too much personal information.
Never give your personal information off the bat or on the promise that you’ll get hired. Such details are only discussed once you have been effectively hired.
4. The recruiter is hiring you without due diligence.
Yes, we all dread the background checks and having to prepare and submit a proper resume, CV, and references. No one likes to have to go through that stuff, but it is there for a reason – mostly to protect the employer, ensuring they have a good fit, but it also helps you!
Due diligence makes sure that you are a good fit and will not waste your precious time on something that won’t work. It also tells you that the company/employer is serious about that position, and they don’t take hiring people lightly.
5. The company’s sole marketing strategy is to establish its legitimacy.
It may sound strange, but a legitimate company or employer will spend little time trying to convince people they are legitimate. They just don’t have the need to do that, and they have more important things to focus on – like promoting their services, products and mission.
Rule of thumb here is, if the company’s sales page, homepage, or any kind of copy is solely focused on proving how legitimate they are, then chances are they know they aren’t and are just trying to get to your pockets! Run for your life!
Put every job offer you see through these five checkboxes before you take action. Did they pass the test?
No? Trash it!
Yes? Well, don’t jump at it just yet!
You still need to do your own due diligence!
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
I cannot stress enough the importance of this one last step – RESEARCH!
You’ve cleared out your mindset to be more objective and better able to exercise your common sense and some critical thinking.
You’ve checked for telltale signs on the job posting.
Now it’s time to do some detective work!
Here’s what you should be doing and looking for:
- Check the company/employer’s website for any third-party associations that you may recognize as scams.
2. Determine the physical location of the company/employer. Companies with P.O. boxes or just with an e-mail address and an URL shouldn’t be trusted.
3. Check out the company’s social media pages. You want to look for signs of sketchy dealings within the posts and the stuff they associate themselves with.
4. Google them! Do a web search combining the name of the company/employer with the terms “scam” or “reviews.” Google will give you an idea of what is being said about that organization, and whether people have had some problems with them.
5. Find out how to contact the company by phone. It would be a good idea to actually call up the company and chat with a real person.
With the scarcity of good-paying jobs out there, it is easy to get excited and forgo doing your research.
I have fallen for some online scams myself, and while some were really hard to tell, others make me want to bang my head on the table! All I needed to do was have a clear head and do a little research.
The moral of the post?
Very few things in life are handed over to you on a silver platter. Use your common sense and some critical thinking, know the telltale signs and do your research!
Remember, there are some clever sharks out there, so you need to test the waters first! (cheesy lines like this tell you I’m done!)