There’s good news and bad news about the job market for those about to graduate from college. First, the good news: the job market is robust. The bad news? Scammers are busy online trying to mislead and defraud job seekers of all ages. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds those about to enter the job market that while eagerness to obtain an entry-level job is a good thing, it’s important to be able to identify which online job postings are legitimate.
The Internet has opened up new horizons for those looking for work, from local bulletin boards to virtual employment agencies, although people still peruse newspaper classifieds for job openings. BBB urges job hunters of all ages to be vigilant, and offers helpful information on the latest online employment scams, as well as tips on how to avoid them.
When you see an online job posting of interest, BBB recommends the following:
- Start with trust. Research the company’s BBB Business Review – and customer reviews – at bbb.org.
- Google the company. This gives you a better idea of what the company does, what they are about and how to contact them. Be wary of companies with no online “footprints.”
- Visit the company’s website or LinkedIn page. Doing this can help you learn where the company is located, how they hire job seekers, what people have to say about the business, what the office culture is like, their business practices, accomplishments and other information which may prove useful in a job interview.
- Contact the company directly – Ask to speak to the person who does the hiring (find out their name and title). Calling the company also shows initiative and could give one an extra edge when it comes to landing the job.
- Be leery of postings with grammar or spelling errors. Such errors are often a sign the job isn’t legitimate.
Here are some additional red flags to watch out for when searching online for that perfect job:
- Personal financial information is required – Never give out your financial information such as your credit card number, bank account number, Social Security number, etc. to someone you don’t know – especially if it’s online.
- They request that you pay an upfront fee prior to employment – A legitimate job offer will never require payment upfront.
- The potential employer hesitates to answer general questions about the job – If the person interviewing you is vague or dodges questions about what the company does or what type of work you’ll be doing, be cautious.
- Promises of huge salaries with minimal effort – This could be a sign of a “work at home” or pyramid scheme. Remember, if everyone could make good money working from home, everyone would do it. And pyramid schemes are illegal and not sustainable over time.
- Reshipping Positions – Scammers sometimes enlist unwitting job seekers to help them send merchandise – paid for with stolen credit cards – out of the country. These operations are illegal and you do not want to be a part of them.
- Mystery shopping jobs – Though there are legitimate mystery shipping companies, there are many bogus entities that send consumers counterfeit checks, asking them to cash them, spend money at various stores and then wire back funds, keeping a small portion of the funds as payment. However, these checks bounce, leaving consumers deeper in debt. Remember, at best, mystery shopping provides supplemental income.
If you have doubts that a job posting – or a job offer you receive – is legitimate, contact BBB.