As a former classified sales representative it is too easy for me to distinguish a legitimate employment ad from a phony one. It’s like trying to give me a Chucky Cheese game token and telling me it’s a dollar coin. However, I have found that for many others these differences that I see plainly might not be so obvious. There are many innocent, desperate, or otherwise unsuspecting job seekers who fall victim to scams. The search for a job in today’s market can be intense, especially with 11.5 million people out of work, 37% of which who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. Many times these phony ads are used to source your information to sell to companies, or worse, used for scams resulting in identity theft, bank fraud, or an all-around bad deal. Here are some ways to instantly spot these employment ads, and to recognize them for what they are: counterfeits of the real thing.
Simple job description. It’s so easy a cave man can do it. If the job description is too simple or too vague delete and skip to the next. “All you need is a computer, type 10 words per minute; no GED required.” Think about it; a scam artist is not going to take the time to put an elaborate description together and prefers a catch-all ad to grab the attention of just about anyone.
Over-the-top great pay. Following the super easy job description is a great salary for doing little work. You need to stop looking for a cushy job anyway. Great pay typically comes with great responsibility and the description should reflect that.
Hard-to-ignore typos. After years of working in print media I have seen many “legit” typographical errors make it through the presses. But there is something to be said about obvious spelling or grammatical errors that hurt my eyes like the sun’s glare. If you have to ask yourself if the writer is “smarter than a 5th grader” it might be a scam artist.
Check the source. Even emails coming from seemingly legitimate sources, can be phony. Check the domain name of the email you’ve received. An email ending with @yahoo.com or @gmail.com is an immediate red flag. It does not cost much for a company to create a domain name, so freebie email addresses are a no-go. If you see a unique domain name that appears to be a company name Google it! What you find will give you the answer you need on whether or not you need to inquire further. Please note that sometimes there is not any company information available on a job posting if the company wants to keep the posting confidential. In addition, they may choose to go through an agency and that’s the information you will see.
Something about money. If you’re forced to pay for something in order to apply, or if the job requires you deposit checks from a foreign country, it’s a scam. If they ask your bank information for “direct deposit” before you even interview, it’s a scam.
At the end of the day follow your intuition and use your common sense. The same way you don’t have to put a game token into a vending machine to find out it has no value you don’t have to fall for the “okie doke” employment ad either.