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Job Search Scams: The ‘bait-and-switch’ job offer

Jobseekers, protect yourself from scams by staying away from job boards where identity thieves prey on desperate applicants.

Jobseekers, protect yourself from scams by staying away from job boards where identity thieves prey on desperate applicants.

Job search scams target everybody — people of all ages, income levels, and educational backgrounds have fallen for job scams. Scammers don’t single out anyone, and you don’t have to be dumb to fall for a scam. Plenty of smart people have been taken in.

However, jobseekers most at risk for being scammed are desperate, and that includes people who can least afford to lose money to these kinds of scams. That is especially sad, because these are people who may be living paycheck to paycheck and might need money quickly. If someone is not expecting to lose their job, they can be especially vulnerable because they are desperate. The long-term unemployed are also at risk, because the scam might appear to be a “lifeline” that offers immediate income.

Bait and switch’

Some jobseekers are being targeted with “bait-and-switch” scams because they’re not sophisticated in discerning a legitimate job opportunity. Scammers are putting together job postings that look like they’re from real companies. They might even use the real company’s name and logo, but the e-mail address it comes from is from a Yahoo! or Gmail account. Some of these scam opportunities are also coming through disguised as LinkedIn connection requests or job postings. You have to look very closely at the details in order to determine that it’s actually not a legitimate opportunity.

Some scammers don’t even bother to make it look like the job opening is with a major company — instead, they’ll just make up a job opportunity in the hopes of hooking unsuspecting jobseekers. This take on “catfishing” (where an unsuspecting individual pursues a relationship with a fictional boyfriend or girlfriend) is popular because it costs the scammer little or no money and is very effective.


More identity theft

The purpose of these fake listings is to collect the jobseeker’s Social Security number, credit card information, and/or bank account information, which is then used to access your bank account or steal your identity. This is sometimes done by requesting that the applicant pay to have his or her credit score checked or a background check done, and the jobseeker is directed to a scam website where your personal information will be harvested and stolen.

The scammer posts dozens or hundreds of listings for free on Craigslist (the site doesn’t charge for job postings in most U.S. cities), and if they get even a small percentage of folks to fall for the scam, they can make tens of thousands of dollars.


Database building

“Bait-and-switch” offers can exist on any niche job board, or even the “big boards” like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. These jobs are scams when the job isn’t as promised. For example, a recruiter might post a job listing for a job that doesn’t actually exist — they just want to collect résumés to build their database of candidates. On Craigslist, Monster, or CareerBuilder, these scams might be posted to get leads for multi-level marketing opportunities, or it might be to build a database of jobseekers so they can sell that.

Fake job postings are more likely to appear on Craigslist because the listing is free. The scammer might have to pay a couple hundred dollars to list it on Monster.com — and some of them actually do.

For jobseekers, Craigslist can be a legitimate source of job opportunities, especially for folks who work in hourly, part-time, or contract positions. Unfortunately, scammers are causing jobseekers to miss out on legitimate work opportunities when they ignore Craigslist as a source of job postings because of the possibility of fraud.

Job boards are an area of vulnerability for job seekers. If you’d like to avoid using them, contact me today to talk about other job search techniques that work even better.


 Image courtesy Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos.net

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