You’re unemployed, and you’re looking for a job so you can pay all of those bills you get every month. Suddenly, an email zooms into your inbox with a job offer you can’t refuse. You click it, but it asks for information you really don’t want to give out to a potential employer.
This is a telling sign that this email was sent by a scammer, and you’re about to fall for his or her master plan. Next time you click on a job offer email, consider these tips to identify if the email is a fake.
1. Email is the only form of contact
According to a July 2017 press release from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, one of the most common red flags for job emails is when the potential employer provides no contact information, except an email address. If a company is willing to hire someone without even conducting a phone interview – and is only able to talk to that person through email – the email is most likely a scam.
Another way people can tell if the email is fake is by copying and pasting the email address into a search engine like Google or Yahoo. If the first link that pops up is an entirely different company from what the email claims to be – or even another job seeker reporting the exact same email address – then the email should absolutely be deleted.
2. The offer is ‘too good to be true’
Sometimes the job offered comes with outrageous benefits that no regular job would ever give. Scammers like to outline rewards such as an extremely high starting salary and the best health benefits imaginable. However, the most frequent advantage given in these emails is that a potential employee can make a lot of money without ever leaving home.
An April 2016 news release by the Better Business Bureau states that work-from-home offers are primarily directed towards senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students and handicapped or injured people. These offers are meant to take advantage of their conditions, as these groups lack the ability to seek a job outside of their home. The BBB recommends that potential employees research any work-from-home offer with the organization to see if the offer is real or not.
3. The email asks for personal information
If the email asks for any sort of personal information, such as your Social Security number or credit card number, the email is most likely fake. Employers and employment firms never ask for personal information through email or over the phone; they always ask for it in person or on a legitimate job application. Another less common tactic that scammers like to use is asking the potential employee to open a new bank account, revealing the information to them. This way, scammers gain access to your money and run away with it. If you have an existing bank account, you can safely ignore the instructions to open a new one, but remember not to give your existing bank account information to them either.
4. Check for spelling/grammatical errors
Any journalist, English teacher or job firm can tell you if an email contains at least one spelling or grammatical error, it’s probably a bogus email. Scammers may use fonts and letterheads that look official enough for the email to be real, but the content of the email itself must be assessed.
According to a 2014 AARP scam alert, a frequent spelling error used in job scam emails is the use of the number “0” for the letter “o,” which could be used in a phrase such as “Insurance qu0tes.” Look to the end of the email address for another common spelling error. For example, if the ending is “.co” instead of “.com,” the email address may originate in Colombia, not a U.S.-based company.
5. The ‘employer’ requests money
A real job offer wouldn’t come with the condition of paying for something before starting work with the company. If the email asks you to buy something, such as new computer software or a background check, that’s a bad sign. The only thing a company should have you pay for is a uniform, if necessary. Any other requests can be treated as a red flag.
The next time you get an email about a possible “dream job,” take the time to research the email. That way, you are less likely to fall for job offer scams and more likely to get your real dream job in the future.