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A person frustrated trying to navigate  various job scams online.

Stepping into the job market after completing a tech bootcamp, online course, college, or any job training program like Merit America can feel overwhelming.

In today’s digital world, job seekers not only tackle the challenge of finding the right job, but also face the risk of job scams. Scammers prey on vulnerabilities, exploiting the desperation and uncertainty that can accompany a job search.

At Merit America, we understand your journey. Our Job Success Coaches, like Betty Raschko, provide personalized guidance to empower you with the knowledge and skills to navigate the job market safely and confidently. In this blog, you’ll gain essential tips to identify and avoid job scams, and see how Betty uncovers real opportunities for success.

What are job scams?

What are Job Scams?

Job scams are deceptive schemes aimed at defrauding job seekers by stealing personal information, money, or both. Scammers pose as legitimate employers or recruiters, using various tactics to trap unsuspecting individuals. These scams can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and emotional distress. 

In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recorded about 105,000 reports related to “business and job opportunity” scams, with victims losing around $450 million. This significant increase over the past five years is due in part to the rise in remote work and advancements in AI technology.

What To Avoid Job Searching

You might think you’re too savvy to fall for a job scam, but even the best of us can be caught off guard.

Scammers can mimic authentic job postings and even pose as recruiters from major tech companies. Remember, job scammers are everywhere. The Better Business Bureau found that 32% of reported job scams came from and ZipRecruiter. 

Warning Signs of a Job Scam
  • Requests for money exchanges
  • Fake checks
  • Urgency in responses
  • Contact information not using a company email address
  • Difficulty finding the company online
  • Requirement to purchase goods/services upfront
  • Request for personal and sensitive information early in the interview process
  • Job claims to pay a lot for very little work
  • Promises of drastic income changes overnight
Warning Signs in an Interview
  • Interview requests from generic email addresses
  • Recruiters using social media platforms instead of direct emails
  • Job offers at the end of a single, short interview
  • No real person involved in the interview process
  • Requests for personal information like social security numbers, dates of birth, or bank account details during recruitment
  • Recruiters charging application or job training fees
  • Recruiters withholding the company name until after you accept the job and share sensitive information

Your journey to career success is an important one, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. By staying informed and vigilant, you can avoid the pitfalls of job scams and find the opportunities that truly match your skills and aspirations.

A woman completing tech career training from her laptop outside
Types of Job Scams

Types of Job Scams

🚩 Stealing Personal Information

Scammers frequently target personal information found on resumes and online profiles to commit identity theft.

Tip: Avoid sharing sensitive details like your full address, date of birth, or Social Security number on resumes and profiles. Consider using a separate email address for job searches.

🚩 Fake Job Ads

Fake job postings mimic legitimate opportunities to trick applicants into divulging personal data or money.

Tip: Check job postings on official company websites or trusted job boards. Exercise caution if salaries or benefits seem unusually high compared to industry standards.

🚩 Job Offers Without Interviews

Receiving a job offer without undergoing an interview process is a major red flag. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that job scams often circumvent standard hiring protocols.

Tip: Legitimate employers conduct comprehensive interviews to assess a candidate’s qualifications and fit for the role. If you receive an unsolicited job offer, independently verify the company’s legitimacy through reliable sources before proceeding.

🚩 Random Reach Outs

Scammers may contact you unsolicited, claiming to have discovered your resume online and offering to expedite the hiring process. Research indicates that scammers frequently exploit social media and job boards to identify potential victims.

Tip: Verify recruiter legitimacy by confirming their contact information aligns with the company’s domain. Beware of generic messages lacking clear job details.

🚩 Check Cashing Scams

In check cashing scams, scammers send fake checks, instructing victims to deposit them, purchase equipment, and return any remaining funds. The FTC highlights check cashing scams as a prevalent and costly form of fraud.

Tip: Never deposit checks from unfamiliar sources. Legitimate employers do not require financial transactions during the hiring process.

🚩 Requests for Personal Information

Fake recruiters may request sensitive information under the guise of processing job applications.

Tip: Protect your personal information by withholding sensitive details such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or driver’s license until you’ve verified the legitimacy of the employer. 

@meritamerica Don’t ignore the red flags 🚩 when applying to jobs! #jobredflags #jobapplication #careertiktok #careeradvice #meritamerica ♬ noir – sho

How To Spot Job Scams

How To Spot Job Scams

Recognizing the warning signs of job scams is crucial to safeguarding your personal information and financial security. Merit America Career Coach, Betty Raschko, shares some invaluable insights:

“First, check for branding. Legitimate companies usually have a professional online presence with logos and clear branding. If you don’t see a logo, investigate further. Second, watch out for generic messages—scammers often use generic language and ask for personal information. Lastly, their contact information should be readily available. If it isn’t, that’s a red flag.”

✍️ Scrutinize Unsolicited Contacts

Remain vigilant when receiving unexpected emails or messages from recruiters. Always verify the authenticity of the sender’s email address and credentials. Phishing scams are increasingly sophisticated, so exercise caution.

✍️ Analyze Email Quality

Fraudulent emails often contain spelling and grammar errors, vague job descriptions, or urgent requests for personal information. Trust your instincts—if an email seems suspicious or unprofessional, proceed with caution. Be wary of emails that pressure you to act quickly or divulge sensitive information without proper verification.

✍️ Research the Company

Before engaging with a potential employer, conduct thorough research to confirm their legitimacy and reputation. Visit the company’s official website, review their online presence and customer reviews, and verify job postings through reputable platforms. Legitimate companies maintain professional websites with clear branding, company information, and contact details. Use reliable job boards and networking sites to verify job postings and employer credentials.

✍️ Insist on Proper Interview Processes

Reputable employers adhere to structured interview processes to assess candidates’ skills and qualifications. Exercise caution if offered a job without undergoing standard interview procedures. Request detailed information about the interview process, including interview formats, scheduling, and contact details. Genuine employers value transparency and provide opportunities for candidates to ask questions and clarify job expectations.

✍️ Guard Your Personal Information

Your personal information is precious and deserves careful handling. Share it cautiously, and keep sensitive details like your Social Security number, bank account info, or driver’s license secure during the early stages of the application process. Genuine employers respect your privacy and won’t ask for sensitive information until you’ve advanced through interviews and received a formal job offer. 

✍️ Beware of Upfront Payments

Scammers might ask for upfront payments for job-related expenses like equipment, training materials, or administrative fees. Remember, legitimate employers cover these costs and won’t require you to make financial transactions. Stay confident and protect yourself—don’t deposit checks, wire money, or purchase items for an employer without verifying their authenticity. Be wary of any payment requests or financial transactions as part of the job application process. Your security and peace of mind are paramount.

Our Job Success Phase

Merit America’s Job Success Phase 

Finding a job can be tough, but Merit America is here to empower you every step of the way.

Our 12-week Job Success phase puts you firmly in control of your job search, connecting you with Career Coaches like Betty Raschko, who cheer on every victory as you journey towards the job offer that excites you most.

Here’s what Betty shares:

“Job seeking can feel isolating, especially when you’re embracing a new professional identity. But guess what? You don’t have to navigate it alone. In this crucial last leg of our curriculum, you’re paired with a Job Success Coach who collaborates with you to build key deliverables and strategize a personalized job search plan. We’re here to help you tackle the big questions: how can you highlight your experience beyond technical skills? What unique value can you bring? And how can you prove to employers that you’re the best fit for their team?

We’ll guide you through job-hunting best practices, networking tips, writing stellar cover letters and resumes, acing interviews, and so much more. These are all the key ingredients for owning your job search, both with Merit America and beyond.”

As you progress through the Job Success phase at Merit America, anticipate:

  • Enhancing your LinkedIn profile and resume 
  • Practicing mock interviews to excel in both behavioral and technical assessments 
  • Mastering salary negotiation techniques for optimal job offers 
  • Leveraging AI to enhance your job search efficiency 
  • Receiving personalized coaching from Job Success Specialists to reach your career goals 

If you’re wondering whether to take the leap, try our “Which program is right for you?” quiz! Ready to apply and have a coach in your corner cheering you on every step of the way? Apply here!

Not quite ready? Explore more about Merit America through these blogs: