How to Identify a WFH Scam

How do you identify a WFH scam?

As more businesses revert to a traditional office setup, the world is seeing an increase in employees leaving formal employment to chase their lifelong passion. 

Also known as the ongoing economic trend ‘The Great Resignation’, the phenomenon is creating a sudden demand for online income opportunities - creating an environment ideal for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. 

Fraudsters will post what appear to be lucrative offers on legitimate job posting sites. They will go to great efforts to make them seem authentic. Some will even go the whole nine yards and do the following:

  • Create fake company websites
  • Make themselves available for audio calls, or
  • Impersonate legitimate companies to get you to trust them.

We understand that this may make you feel a bit dubious to seek a new career online. But, before you lose faith in scouring the web for employment or freelance opportunities, let us be the first to tell you that there are legitimate job postings out there. You’ll just need to be careful, do your research, and approach the process with caution.   

So, how do you identify a WFH scam? In this article, we’ll share telltale signs you should be wary of to avoid falling victim to WFH scams.

How to tell if an online job listing is a scam

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At first glance it can be difficult to identify a bogus listing, especially if you’ve just started your job search.

However, there are some ways you can spot a fraudulent job listing the moment you read through it. If you notice grammar or spelling errors, lack of company information, or offers that sound too good to be true are some of the early signs of a scam. 

Before you learn how to spot a fake job listing, you should know why they exist in the first place. 

Aside from identity thieves looking to steal your personal information, here are some of the other reasons people create fake job listings:

  • Companies store them ahead of time in case a position becomes available
  • Employers gauging the level of available talent
  • Spammers looking to get your email address to sell it to other companies
  • Employers lurking on their employees to see if they are applying for positions with other companies

In the event that you come across a suspicious job listing, make sure to do your due diligence and pay heed to the following:

There is little information on the company

Photo taken from Canva

Some fake job listings can pass the eye test for their job description, requirements, and salary. But before you click that ‘apply’ button, here’s a good rule to remember: do your research and check if the company you’re applying to is legitimate before submitting an application.

If you see a company that has no information on the web whatsoever, this is a clear red flag that the job posting can't be trusted. 

But hold on, even if they do have an existing website or social media page, this won’t be enough evidence to confirm that the company is genuine. 

Here are several steps you should take when performing a background check of a company to help verify its legitimacy:

  • Check if the business has an employer identification number (EIN) and is approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Verify whether the business has been registered with local, state, or federal authorities
  • Browse the company’s website by checking their contact information, privacy policy, and quality of written content
  • Search for online reviews and testimonials of the company 
  • Visit their principal place of business (if applicable)

You're ask to send or receive money

Photo taken from Canva

When ‘employers’ request your bank account details before you’re hired, that alone should tell you to look for other listings. 

Some bogus employers will even ask for money from you upfront to help bolster your chances! Some try to make it less obvious by to pay for other company-related expenses (equipment, training, seminars…). 

You should never have to pay to be hired for a job. Always remember: real jobs pay you, not the other way around. 

Some scammers might even do it the other way around and send you a fake company check to purchase equipment. They will then have the excess money wired back to the company. This scam has gained popularity recently as checks will usually take a couple of business days to bounce.

The offer is too good to be true

Photo taken from Canva

When you're unemployed, it can leave you feeling anxious... Making you eager to accept the first job offer that comes your way. 

When job listings offer wages beyond market value or don’t require you to submit any sort of basic information, this should be a clear early warning sign of not only a potential scam, but a potentially toxic work environment (in the event that the job listing proves to be legitimate). 

When going over the job listing, make sure to read the fine print before you move forward. Here are different ways you can spot a job listing that’s too good to be true:

  • The employer makes vague promises without the necessary paperwork
  • Employee's responsibilities aren’t clearly defined
  • The position has been vacant for a while or there’s frequent turnover
  • They send you a job offer without going through a formal interview process
  • Follow your intuition or ‘gut feeling’

Unprofessional communication

Photo taken from Canva

Another red flag for a potential WFH scam is when a job listing contains multiple grammatical errors.

Yes, anyone can make a spelling error or misuse modifiers, but if a legitimate company is hiring for any position, multiple employees would at least go through the entire listing and clean up any punctuation or grammatical errors before it's officially posted online - failure to do so could harm their reputation.

You can also say the same when the 'employer' sends their job offer.

If you’re greeted using their personal email or receive an unprofessional response that contains emojis, sentences written in ALL CAPS, inconsistent font sizes or multiple punctuation marks, this is also a clear indicator that the job is fake.

Final thoughts

Finding your dream job can be difficult during these times. 

While it can be tempting to jump at the first opportunity that comes your way, make sure to hold off on sharing any of your personal information, be wary of the signs mentioned in this post, and do thorough background research on the company you’re interested in applying to. 

"There may be more people that have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you." - Derek Jeter

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