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Zeerak Haider
Zeerak Haider
PhD, Career Coach
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Hiring scams are on the rise. Bad actors have noticed that more and more people are looking for remote positions, and they’re using that aspiration to take advantage of job seekers. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself while applying and interviewing.

The simplest and most impactful thing you can do to protect yourself is to ask yourself this one question:

Is This a Legitimate Company?

It is important to do your due diligence when researching a company. Make sure the company has an online presence, including a fully functioning website without any grammatical errors, an actual mission and purpose, a real structure, and a careers page. You can also see if the job you’re applying for is listed on the company website.

Then, check the company’s LinkedIn page. LinkedIn recently released a feature to help you see the age of a profile and when it was last updated. Use this feature to assess the company and verify that the recruiter who reached out to you actually works there. If a recruiter contacts you from a personal email account (Yahoo or Gmail), this is a major red flag, since professional companies almost always have professional email accounts.

By verifying these simple features, you can be confident that you’re not investing time and resources into a scam. And, of course, no matter what happens, do not provide your social security number or driver’s license information to a recruiter over the phone early on in the process.

Here are some additional tips and resources:

  1. Check that the company has a verifiable phone number and email.
  2. Conduct a quick Google search with the name of the company and the word “scam.”
  3. Create a separate email account for your job search.
  4. Create a separate bank account for the company to pay into to protect yourself and your funds.
  5. Never pay a company money when applying for a position.
  6. Use the Virtual Vocations Company database, which contains information on over 25,000 organizations that are remote-friendly.
  7. Check out this article on how to identify fake websites.
  8. Order a free credit report to make sure that no credit cards have been opened in your name. You can request three a year.

Despite your best efforts to verify a company, know that many scammers are very sophisticated and fully intent on duping you into believing they represent a legitimate company. 

If you are offered an interview and feel wary about the company, be sure to ask yourself this question:

What Does the Interview Process Look Like?

Many companies are now shifting to video interviews instead of phone interviews in order to see the applicants and how they answer questions. This is a good sign that you should look for when applying for jobs. An interview process conducted entirely over email is a major red flag.

The initial call with a recruiter typically takes a few minutes, during which the recruiter may ask you to share how your experience aligns with the job. A recruiter should never ask for your personal information, such as your social security or bank account information. When speaking with a recruiter, inquire about the interview process and timeline. Many (if not all) companies will conduct their interviews over video call, and the HR manager will show their face. Be cautious of “face-to-face” interviews where you cannot see the HR manager.

Interviewing with a company that poses itself as legitimate can place you in a vulnerable position, as you’ll likely be excited about the opportunity and the potential of a job offer. Nevertheless, stay vigilant, and if you have any doubts, do the following after your interview:

  1. When offered the job, call the number on the company’s website to confirm that the position is real.
  2. Re-read the job offer and the pay being offered. If the job description is generic and doesn’t require a specific skill set for your field, be cautious. Any job that offers to pay more than the average salary range for your field should be met with suspicion.
  3. Many companies will ask for references and check with them prior to offering you the job. This is a good sign. Contact your references to double-check whether the company reached out to them.
  4. Carefully review the job offer and letterhead. Check for typos and grammatical errors, and double-verify that they are indeed a real company.
  5. Do not purchase any supplies with your personal funds. Many companies will physically mail you all the supplies you need and will not require you to use your personal funds to pay for laptops or other items.

So when presented with potential opportunities, be sure to stay safe. When you are looking for jobs and filling out your application funnel/tracker, we suggest that you create a column in which you can track whether you’ve verified the companies.

If you really feel that something isn’t right with a certain company or job offer, feel free to contact the career team. And if you are the victim of a scam, immediately follow the steps here. Then, contact TripleTen and be sure to report the scam here.

IT career tips

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