Don’t Get Fooled – Common Job Search Scams You Should Avoid


Thanks to the explosion of job boards and email based messaging in recent years, job seekers are running into more and more job scams. While some scams may be obvious, others are fairly sophisticated and may take a little more effort to identify. Here are some of the common types of scams you’ll find along your job search:

“Secret Shopper” That Includes Sending a Money Order

The “Secret Shopper” scam has become quite popular in recent years. They will send you a check and instruct you to deposit it into your bank account and wait for it to clear. Once it clears, you are to use a portion of the check to test a local company’s wire transfer services, use a portion for some other shopping of your choice, and keep the rest of the money as your payment. The scam relies on confusion about how checks are cleared by banks. Even though a bank may tell you a check clears in a few days, it may still bounce two or more weeks later, and you will be on the hook for replacing any money you drew against it – money which you have already wired to the scammer. Remember, anybody looking to overpay you and have you send them the difference is probably working an angle.

A Too-Good-to-Be-True Offer of Making $4K a Week Stuffing Envelopes

You’ve no doubt seen ads that claim that you can make up to $4K a week(!) stuffing envelopes. They may even try to use very confusing math to show you how you can achieve this. All you have to do is send in some money for the materials and just like that you have a little home business. What they don’t tell you is that the envelope stuffing won’t make you $4K a week. To make that money, you need to convince your friends and neighbors to buy into the same scheme. This is just like many other multi-level marketing pyramid schemes that are best avoided entirely.

You Have to Make an Upfront “Investment” with the Company to Get Started

Typically, this type of job ad will tell you that for a small investment of $50-$500 for software, training, or product, you’ll be able to start your own business/branch/website and make a “fortune.” Some of these companies may have business licenses and professional looking websites, but they are looking to prey on those who want to believe that they can make a six-figure salary by sitting at home with very little effort. Of course, you won’t.

No Regular Paycheck, But the “Opportunity” to Make Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars a Year

Wording makes a difference in job ads. One of the tell-tale signs of a scam is a promise that you won’t make a regular paycheck, but that you’ll make an exorbitant amount somewhere down the line. While there are some legitimate freelance jobs where you won’t make a “regular” paycheck, they will clarify that you will get paid a certain amount as goals are reached or when projects are completed. A scam simply won’t address when you’ll get paid, but will instead promise you a huge payday in the future, probably after you pay for training or software.

One thought on “Don’t Get Fooled – Common Job Search Scams You Should Avoid

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  1. Good read! Another scam is when they are offering a lot of money, but there are very little requirements for the job and will interview you via texting rather than talking on the phone. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. They should also type in the scenario into, i.e. text interview. Your bank might even cash the check for you and give you the money. Many times the company listed on the check is real, but the check is not really from them. It takes the banks days to figure it out and by that time you might be in the hole if you follow the scammers instructions.

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