How to spot a job scam – no matter how sophisticated

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How to spot a job scam – no matter how sophisticated

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​warns that applying for jobs online can be a risky business these days, and with many employers (even local ones) now working with third-party job sites, it’s important to you know what to watch out for.
If you’re applying for jobs online, do your research regularly before accepting an interview or job offer. Job scams have become very sophisticated, convincingly claiming to be genuine employers, requesting interviews and even providing fake job offer letters. These clever new twists on traditional job scams have increased in the BBB’s Scam Tracker. In fact, according to the BBB’s latest Risk Fraud Tracker report, employment fraud has climbed to the second highest risk type of fraud after online purchases.
How this scam works
• You apply online through a reputable third-party job search site. A few days or weeks later, you receive a text message or email asking if you are still interested in the position or similar at the same company. Since you provided your contact information to your potential employer when you applied, the message doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.
• If you reply to the message, the scammer will invite you to a job interview. This is when red flags start to appear. Instead of conducting a traditional interview, the “employer” asks you to download a messaging app and answer a few questions via text. You are then offered the position on the spot, with great pay and benefits. Your new “employer” may even send you a compelling offer letter. After your “job offer,” the fake employer asks you to fill out a form with your personal and banking information, claiming they need it for direct deposit. In other cases, the scammer may ask you to set up a home office with your funds or money, which they will send you with a (fake) check.
• If you send money or share your personal information, it will already be in the hands of fraudsters. You’re unlikely to get your money back, and your shared personal information puts you at risk of identity theft.
How to avoid such scams:
• Research the person who contacted you. If you suspect that the person contacting you may be a scammer, look them up. A quick online search should reveal if they work for the company they claim to represent.
• Do more research on the company. You may have done this before applying for the position. Still, if you get a surprise interview offer, it’s worth doing more research to learn more about the hiring process, home office requirements, salary and benefits packages. If they don’t respond to your offer, you may be dealing with a scammer.
• Don’t get carried away by jobs that seem too good to be true. They probably are. If you’re offered a job – without a formal interview – with great pay and benefits, it’s probably a scam.
For more information, visit
Read more about employment fraud in the BBB’s 2022 Fraud Tracking Risk Report on the website. Learn to recognize the signs of fraud by reviewing BBB’s Advice: Employment Fraud, available online, and read more about employment fraud in their Employment Fraud Study.
Also, if you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker. By reporting your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam.
For more information or additional inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414.847.6000 or 1.800.273.1002. Consumers can also find more information on how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has helped people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2021, people reached out to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, all available for free at There are local independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin, which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.

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