8 Ways to Spot a Job Scam

Do you know how to spot a job or employment scam?

As if job searching isn’t challenging enough, there are a growing number of job or employment scams you need to look out for.  In this blog post we share what you need to know about how to spot job scams and how to avoid falling victim.

What is a job scam?

Job scams often involve fake online job advertising which target jobseekers via email, phone or social media. The scammers’ goal is to gain personal information from candidates or steal money from them.

Sadly, job scams are on the rise. According to a survey conducted by ActionFraud, “Over 700,000 jobseekers reported losing more than £500,000 through job scams – a 300% rise over the last two years”. Jobseekers aged 18-24 are more likely to be targeted as they are less knowledgeable about the job market and are often more desperate to find a job.


1. The job description is poorly written

If a job description you’ve found online doesn’t look like it’s been written by a professional, be suspicious. Look out for poor grammar or typos throughout the job description and assess if the information is poorly structured.

Don’t be incited by urgency (i.e apply NOW!!!!). If the description sounds more like an infomercial than a job, it’s probably a scam.

2. The job description is vague

Read through the job responsibilities and ask yourself: “Have they actually explained what the job entails?”. Often, job scammers keep the description generic. In addition, the requirements for a successful candidate are usually so broad it seems anyone could do the job. Phrases such as “No experience or skills required”, “No interviews needed” are a red flag.

3. You’ve received an offer via email from an unknown address

Sometimes, job scams are in your inbox rather than on a job board. Scammers will use real company names in their email address to make them look legitimate. For example, you may receive an email from “gsmith@virgin_media.com”, but the actual email account is “gsmith@virginmedia.com”. Often, scammers are not that witty and will contact you with a personal email address ending with “@gmail.com” or “@yahoo.com”.

The body of the email will probably mention that the recruiter has found your CV on a job portal or online. Be suspicious if you don’t recall uploading a CV onto the sites they mention. Remember to check for grammar and vague descriptions throughout the email.

4. It all sounds too good to be true

Job scammers will try and make the job sound irresistible. “You’ll work from home, for less than 20 hours a day and earn up to £80,000 a month!!”. If the job benefits sound too amazing to be real, that’s probably the case.

If you’re directly contacted for a job, job scammers may use tactics to make you feel chosen. They may even tell you you’ve already been selected for the job even if you haven’t been interviewed. If only getting a job were that easy…

5. The company advertising the offer is not registered

If you’re reading through a job offer that looks a bit suspicious, check out if the company advertising it is registered with the government. This includes recruitment agencies acting as the middleman. In the UK, all companies need to be registered with Companies House. If you can’t find the company by searching the Companies House website, you may be dealing with a job scam.

6. You’re asked to share personal details

Job scammers will often ask for personal information to steal your identity. If you’re asked to share bank details or fill out a form that requires sensitive information, do not proceed. A real recruiter will never ask for this sort of information in the first or second stage of the recruitment process.

7. You’re asked to pay a fee

Job scammers will often ask for money to cover fake job-related expenses such as:

  • Background checks. Including criminal history, credit card history, etc.
  • Expensive products or software upgrades you’ll need to carry out the job.
  • Extortionate travel fees. Legitimate companies may reimburse your travel expenses but won’t ask you to pay up front.
  • CV rewrites and reviews. They’ll mention your CV needs some improving before making it to the next level in the recruitment process.

8. You’re asked to pay for training

A legitimate employer is unlikely to ask you to pay for training as a pre-requisite for being considered for a job. If training is required before you start work, the company should pay for this.

There are some exceptions for example if possessing a blue card or other health and safety training is a prerequisite but be wary of companies who offer their own in-house training that you are asked to pay for.

How to avoid job scams

In summary, here’s how to spot job or employment scam:

Don’t share personal information on your CV. Never include your date of birth, driver’s licence number, full address (your postcode or city is enough), photo and any other personal information.

Keep track of the recruitment agencies and job portals you’ve shared your CV with, and make sure you’re aware of their data sharing policies. You will find these on their website under a heading of Privacy or GDPR. If site does not display a data protection policy you should be vary wary as this a strict legal requirement. 

Don’t share any personal information until you’re absolutely certain about the legitimacy of the job and the agency or company. 

If you agree to a phone interview, make sure the person calls you to avoid premium rate number scams.

Don’t follow email links, fill out any forms or download files until you’ve sure the agency or company is genuine. You can very easily end up falling victim to identify fraud by providing your personal details online. 

A simple Google search can often reveal if you’re dealing with a job or employment scam. Type in the name of the company and job title followed by ‘+ job scam’ or ‘+ employment scam’ or ‘+ fake job’ and chances are, if you’re dealing with a scam you will discover victims sharing their experience.

No matter how desperate you might become while looking for a job, you need to make sure you’ve done your research and confident you can trust the person you’re sharing your information with. No job is worth risking your personal safety and security or loosing out financially for.

Picture of Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev,  RCDP, MAC

Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, RCDP, MAC

Career Coach, EMCC-Accredited Master Practitioner Coach and CDI-Registered Career Development Professional with more than 20 years’ experience helping achieve successful and fulfilling careers.



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