5 Steps to Avoid Online Job Scams
Today, the easiest and fastest way to search for a job is by browsing online job sites. Inc. recently reported that a whopping 79 percent of job seekers today head online to find their next jobs. With an abundance of career opportunities available online, sending your resume to an employer takes only a few clicks.
Unfortunately, job seekers are perfect targets for online job scams. You need to be aware of these threats and know how to protect yourself. Here are 5 key steps you need to take in order to keep yourself safe while job hunting online.

5 Steps to Avoid Online Job Scams

1. Secure Your Computer

Before you use the internet to search for a job, you need to make sure your computer is completely protected from online threats with appropriate software. This is a must if you use the internet for any purpose and is especially important with online job hunting.
The first line of defense is installing a firewall which will detect and block any potential remote access attempts. Anti-virus and anti-malware software is necessary to block viruses, spyware, and malware that could infect your computer if you visit suspicious sites.
You also need to make sure that all of the mentioned software and your operating system are all updated regularly.

2. Recognize Online Job Scams

Learning to tell the difference between genuine job opportunities and scams may be a job seeker’s biggest challenge today. Here are surefire signs a posted job may be a scam:
  • You received unsolicited application requests via email. If this happens, make sure you confirm all unsolicited job opportunities before applying.
  • The opportunity sounds too good to be true. If the pay seems high for the skill set or other parameters seem “off,” it is likely a scam.
  • The job ad is a well-known scam. Envelope stuffing, pyramid schemes, home assembly – these are all known scams.
  • The job ad requires you to pay a certain fee to apply. No legitimate employer will charge you a fee up front to apply for a job.

 3. Avoid Sharing Sensitive Information

If you are asked for your social security number, birthdate, credit card or banking numbers early in the job process, be extremely careful. Even if you are completely sure that that you are applying for a legitimate position, you should be wary when sharing such sensitive information online.
This especially applies if you haven’t secured your computer with appropriate security software. If a hacker gets ahold of your personal information you could become a victim of identity theft. To prevent that from happening, take the necessary security precautions and only share your personal information over the phone or in person.
[RELATED: The Top Ten Online Tools I Can’t Live Without]

4. Be Careful With Unsolicited Email

As mentioned above, you might get unsolicited emails offering resume help, career coaching, interviewing tips or job opportunities. Unfortunately, many of these offers are scams.
That is why you should be extremely careful when opening and responding to emails that have the following characteristics:
  • You are BCC’d on what looks like a bulk email.
  • The “reply to” address goes to an unattended mailbox.
  • The sender is using an email service such as Gmail or Yahoo instead of an official corporate email address.
  • The email includes instructions to download documents, click links or watch embedded videos (any of which could discharge spyware or malware onto your device).
  • Someone you don’t know sends you a personalized email inviting you to apply for a job.

5. Trust Your Instincts

Finally, probably the most important thing when searching for a job is to trust your own instincts. So, if your internal warning bells start going off, pay attention. If a job sounds too good to be true or if anything about the job looks suspicious, it would be best to not pursue that position.
There is always a way to verify employers, job opportunities and application criteria when the job is legitimate. By taking the time to complete these extra steps, you can ensure you spend your valuable time applying for legitimate jobs that deserve your talent and skills.

Final Thoughts

By understanding how scammers step in at moments in life when you are particularly vulnerable or trusting to take advantage of you, you can take the proper self-protective measures. By securing your computer, verifying whether job postings are authentic, safeguarding your private information and trusting your instincts, you can successfully navigate through the wilds of the internet to land a great new job.

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