Searching for Jobs Online: What to Be Aware Of

We all know how convenient it is to search for jobs online, and I would suspect that most new college graduates use the Internet to search for job opportunities. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), in 2007, 73 percent of job searchers turned to the Internet as a primary source for job searching. While searching for jobs online is easy, this presents an opportunity for ID thieves to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers. In 2007 alone, the Federal Trade Commission recorded more than 11,000 complaints about business opportunities including work-at-home scams, many of which were advertised online. To decrease the chances of this happening to you, the BBB has identified seven red flags job seekers need to be aware of when searching for jobs online:

Employer E-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors:
Most online fraud is perpetrated by scammers located outside the U.S. Their first language usually isn’t English, and this is often evident in their poor grasp of the language which can include poor grammar and the misspelling of common words.

E-mails professing to be from job posting websites claiming there’s a problem with a job seeker’s account:
After creating a user account on sites like or, a job hunter might receive an E-mail saying there has been a problem with their account or they need to follow a hyperlink to install new software. Phishing E-mails like this are designed to convince readers to click a link within the message to fix the issue, but actually take them to a website that will install malware or viruses on their computer.

An employer asks for extensive personal information such as social security or bank account numbers:
Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they’ve gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal information in order to fill out the necessary paperwork suspicions were raised – and rightly so. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.

An employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home:
While there are legitimate businesses that allow employees to work from home, there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students and injured or handicapped people looking to make money at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and always research the company with their BBB first at

An employer asks for money upfront:
Aside from paying for a uniform, it is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job. Most recently, the BBB of Metropolitan Dallas uncovered a scam where job hunters were told they had to pay $64.50 for a background check before they could be considered for a cleaning job. Predictably, after paying for the background check, the job seeker never heard from the company again.

The salary and benefits offered seem too-good-to-be-true:
The adage holds true for job offers: if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little experience in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.

The job requires the employee to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram:
Many phony jobs require the prospective employee to cash a check sent by the company through the mail and then wire a portion of the money on to another entity. Reasons given for this requirement vary from scam to scam. Whatever the reason though, the check might clear the employee’s bank account but will eventually turn out to be a fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back to the scammers.

Contributor: Audra Perry

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