How to Avoid Scams on Job Boards: 17 Things to Look Out For

The internet has made finding work infinitely easier. In fact, some job boards allow us to simply ‘click and apply’ in a matter of seconds. However, while the internet has changed the way we find our future jobs, it’s also set up a platform where scammers use job boards to defraud job seekers. If you are not vigilant in your job search, then you could end up applying for a job that never existed and wasted your time–and possibly money, too.

How do you avoid scams on job boards? Job seekers should be vigilant when finding work online. Here are 17 things to pay attention to when looking for a job online plus 6 great ways to keep yourself safe:

  1. The Job Asks You to Pay Money
  2. They Ask You for Personal Information
  3. The Job Listing is Vague
  4. The Listing is Unprofessional
  5. The Company Contacted You First
  6. There is a Lot of Pay for Minimal Work
  7. There is No Experience Required
  8. You Get the Job Without an Interview
  9. The Email Address is ‘Off’
  10. The Job is Requiring a Credit Report
  11. You’re Contacted by Career Consultants
  12. There Are Too Many Marketing Gimmicks
  13. They Want to Hire You Immediately
  14. There Are No Reviews
  15. There is No Company Information
  16. You’re Contacted Without Applying
  17. It’s a Secret Government Job

Unfortunately, pesky scams on job boards have become increasingly popular. More and more people are looking to scam people out of personal information and money, and this can sometimes easily be done with a fake job. Don’t let desperation for a new job lead you into the world of scams. Check out these warning signs and keep yourself safe online.

Top 17 Obvious Signs the Job is a Scam

The good news is that scams typically screw up in one way or another. It could be something simple, like a slew of typos in the email, or they might make it more intriguing with money-back guarantees and fake success stories. But you will be prepared by watching out for these top signs that the job offer is a complete scam:

1. The Job Asks You to Pay Money

Have you ever been asked to pay money when you’re getting hired for a job? If this is your first time looking for work and you’re unsure, we can help you with the answer: no. You shouldn’t ever have to pay money for a job. If the company asks you for any type of money, then you should delete the message and block the sender immediately.

But it’s not as cut-and-dry and an email saying, “Hey, you’re hired! Now send us some money!”. No, fake jobs can be quite sneaky. They will try and disguise their craving for your cash in a variety of ways, such as:

  • They ask for money to train you. A lot of jobs are going to have to train new employees. The difference is that only scams will require you to pay for the training. If they are offering you some great training at a ‘great price,’ then run for the hills.
  • They want you to buy their product to sell it. Unfortunately, a lot of people fall for these ‘pyramid schemes,’ You buy their product and try to sell it to other people, but most of the time, you don’t make any money- yet you still owe the company for the products. No thanks!
  • They ask for a wire transfer. If there is one piece of advice you take away from this article, let it be this: Never fall for the wire transfer. They may make it sound like a sure thing, and you will end up with more money in your pocket at the end. But what they are doing is setting you up for problems with the bank–you will owe money, and what you’re doing is illegal.

To put it simply, money should never be discussed through messages with a potential employer. The only time money should come up is at the end of a real interview, with the hiring manager or HR, where there is a discussion about salary, not how much money you are going to pay them.

2. They Ask You for Personal Information

If some random person walked up to you on the street and asked for your bank account and routing number, you wouldn’t give it to them, right? So why would you think it is okay for a potential employer to do so? If the ‘job’ is asking you for any type of personal information, it’s a scam.

Now, unfortunately, a lot of people might get a little confused over this. A lot of companies and agencies, such as the police department, will require a credit check and other types of personal information when you apply. However, these types of things are going to be conducted after the initial interview (and probably second and third interviews) have taken place.

The bottom line–never hand out any type of personal information to a job that has contacted you online. This includes all types of personal information from your birth date and address to more serious types of information like social security numbers and bank numbers.

3. The Job Listing is Vague

Actual job postings for actual jobs are likely going to be riddled with information. The company will likely introduce themselves, and who they are, followed by the types of people they are looking for and any qualifications they are seeking. 

A job that is a scam, on the other hand, is going to be out-and-out vague. They may have the name of the position, followed by a few small requirements that could likely suit anyone, including:

  • Must be over 18 years of age.
  • Must be a citizen.
  • Must have reliable transportation.
  • No experience required.

Now, almost everyone fits into those qualifications, right? Aside from a lack of qualifications, there also won’t be very detailed information on the company or the position they are hiring for. It will all seem very generic- like something you would find as a ‘job template’ on Word. Which, of course, an actual company would completely personalize to suit their real job offering.

4. The Listing is Also Unprofessional

As job seekers become more attuned to scams, the scammers have tried to become more professional. But unfortunately, a lot of scam artists simply don’t have the grammatical skills to keep their messages looking top-notch. That is why it is important to pay close attention to messages from the employer and look for signs of unprofessionalism.

Some of the issues with their listing or corresponding emails can be spelling-related, and sometimes it can be an easy catch. Perhaps they are not using the proper form of ‘there’ in their email, such as “They’re is a great job opening for you!” While other times it might be more difficult to catch, such as spelling receive as ‘recieve.’

On the other hand, you must also pay attention to how sentences are formed. The email may have the wrong verb tense, such as “Our Human Resources Team have found your application” as opposed to “Our Human Resources Team has found your application.”

Remember: sometimes the errors will be obvious, while others may not be so subtle. Pay close attention to job posts and emails that are sent your way, especially if you are a bit unsure if the job is real or not.

5. The Company Contacted You First

There is truly no reason why a company would ever try and contact you first. If you haven’t applied for the job, but are receiving an email for it anyway, then it is more than likely a scam. 

Now, this is not always the case. Some companies will seek out resumes that have matching qualifications and skills and reach out to the individual. However, most of the time, they will ask the person to apply for their job because they think they are a great match.

The best rule of thumb is that whenever a company emails first, you should always be extra careful to make sure that it is legit.

6. There is a Lot of Pay for Minimal Work

Everyone would love a work at home data entry job that pays $50 an hour, but is that realistic? Even though a job might sound amazing, keep the old phrase in mind: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” In this situation, it’s best to just take a deep sigh of disappointment and keep moving forward in your job search.

Unfortunately, minimal work does not result in large sums of money. If the job requires no qualifications, no experience, and you’re doing a task that any other Joe could do, then there is really no reason for you to be paid that much. This is simply a way to get people excited and fall for the scam.

7. There is No Experience Required

This doesn’t always apply to some jobs. Think about it- your first job at the local burger joint didn’t require any experience, so why would this mean an automatic scam? The best thing to do is to keep in mind the job that you are applying for. If they want someone to do accounting, and say ‘no experience required,’ it might be a scam.

Keep in mind that in this day and age, even the simplest jobs will have some sort of experience attached to them. Even local burger joints like to see at least 6 months of customer service or food service on someone’s resume. No experience can easily be a gimmick to bring in job seekers to their scam.

8. You Get the Job Without an Interview

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Of course, not! An interview gives the employer and the potential employee a chance to meet each other and see if they are a good fit. And don’t think interviews are just about whether you get hired. You, as the job seeker, must also see if you want to work in the company. 

Is it possible to get a job without the heart-pounding interview? Probably not. So, if you apply for a job and the next day you get a ‘Congratulations!’ email in your inbox, you can rest assured that it’s a scam. Unless, of course, they are congratulating you for making it to the small number of people being asked to come for an interview–in which case you should be thrilled.

The problem with the instant hire is that if they are hiring you without an interview of any kind, the company itself probably does not exist. They will likely move forward by expecting you to hand over your bank account information for ‘direct deposits’ come payday, but they’re really only stealing your information for personal gain.

9. The Email Address is ‘Off’

Scammers are getting a whole lot better at scamming, and some of them may even try to mimic real companies! For instance, the job scam may say that they are contacting you from the Coca Cola Company, but their email is coming from an email address rather than a professional 

Always check the email address to make sure it’s coming from a professional company or individual. If the company isn’t trying to mimic a popular company, it can be a bit more challenging as smaller companies aren’t likely to have their own email addresses set up.

In this circumstance, you can still check the email for any signs of unprofessionalism. The company is not going to send you an email from They are probably going to have a name or something that resembles the actual job, such as

10. The Job Requires a Credit Report

Now, this is not totally unheard of. In fact, a lot of companies require a credit report to be done along with the background report. This is because they are trying to comb through the applicants and don’t want an individual with low credit who might try to embezzle the company to get out of debt. For instance- a bank might not hire someone with the low credit to be a bank teller in fear that they will steal from the register.

But just because it’s required in some jobs, that doesn’t mean you should trust it 100%. This, like many other things, should only be done after an interview with the actual company. In most cases, if a credit report is required, you will end up going through at least two interviews to get the spot. 

If the potential job asks you to submit a credit report before the meeting, then you should delete the email altogether. This is setting yourself up for a horrible scam that could cost you plenty of cash in the end.

11. You’re Contacted By Career Consultants

What exactly is a ‘career consultant’? Oh, you mean the people who are trying to find ‘qualified people in the area’ to apply for one of their ‘real jobs’? The title has scam written all over it. Anytime you see a job coming from a career consultant, it’s best to ignore the email altogether.

These people have come up with some great-sounding emails that sound perfectly legitimate and professional. The problem is, there is no actual job. They are simply trying to lure you into applying, and before you know it, you may end up sending over some personal information with hopes of landing this top-notch job.

12. There Are Too Many Marketing Gimmicks

If you’re unsure about a potential job and think it might be a scam, then what is going to make you feel more secure? How about a page full of happy people whose lives have been changed by the program? How about your money-back guarantee? The more marketing gimmicks you find in a post or message, the more likely it’s going to be a scam.

Think about it this way: if real people were satisfied with the company, you would be able to find reviews online. You wouldn’t need empty promises with a bunch of flashing lights and bright, obvious colors. These are all just gimmicks to make the potential employer feel secure in their choice to trust the scam- only to be very disappointed.

13. They Want to Hire You Immediately

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with being hired without an interview. Only this time, the scam artists will tell you that you have been hired immediately- even without talking about the specifics of the job first! 

These types of scams are the ones that are going to say something along the lines of, “We have immediate positions available! Click here to apply, and you can start working by the end of the day”. Sure, that sounds lovely- especially when you’ve been on the job hunt for much longer than you’ve planned, but real jobs with real companies simply don’t work that way.

If any job is offering ‘immediate employment’ with no interview, no application, nothing, then it is more than likely a scam you need to stay away from. The dream job does not exist.

14. There Are No Reviews

The great thing about looking on a job board for employment is that you can instantly see company reviews! While this isn’t true for all job boards, such as Craigslist, other boards like Indeed and even social media profiles will give you instant access to company reviews- good and bad.

So what is a major red flag to look out for when job hunting? If the company has no reviews, then they likely aren’t the real deal. What’s even worse is if the company has a lot of negative reviews saying that they are a scam. This is a more clear-cut way of finding out whether the gig is real or not, and we applaud those who leave the reviews to help others.

15. There is No Company Information

One thing you should always do-whether you think the job is a scam or not- is to check out the company information. You want to learn as much about the company you’re applying to as possible. In this way, you know whether or not it is going to be a good fit for you, and you will also have some extra knowledge to give you an edge up on the competition.

What happens if there is no company information? If you have searched high and low and have not found a single dose of information on the job, it’s probably a scam. Even small businesses will have some type of information on the web, even if it’s not a full-blown website. If your company seems to be a mystery, don’t try to figure it out–just leave it alone.

16. You’re Contacted Without Applying

This is similar to career consultants hiring you, except supposedly the “company” is contacting you. Sometimes job boards will contact you to inform you that companies are hiring, even though you have never even used that specific job board.

If you are getting a random message or email stating that you’ve been selected to apply for a job or have been hired without applying, don’t think you got lucky- it’s likely a scam.

17. It’s a Secret Government Job

Some scams will claim to be from the government, and therefore the information has to be kept ‘private.’ This is a typical scheme to fall for because a lot of people are interested in government jobs due to the benefits and security, but unless you are part of the FBI, there is no reason for the government to be sending you ‘secret’ jobs.

Be Safe and Do the Following:

Now that you know exactly what to look out for when it comes to scams on job boards, it’s also important to take special precautions to ensure your safety online. Here is a list of 6 things you should always do when applying for jobs online:

1. Look the Company Up Online

Look on the web to see if you can find out any information about the company. If the company doesn’t have anything available, then it probably doesn’t exist. However, doing proper research can also lead you to discover that the job you were looking at is, in fact, a scam. The web is powerful, so use it as your powerful scam-busting tool.

2. Always Use Secure Job Boards

One thing you should always remember is that not all job boards are created equally. You should always make sure that you are using secured job boards that don’t let just anyone post a job, such as Indeed or Monster. Avoid random job boards you haven’t heard of. Even Craigslist is a gateway for scammers as it is not secured, so be wary.

3. Ask Questions

If you think that the job you applied for might be a scam, there is nothing wrong with asking questions to find relief. Even if the job does turn out to be legitimate, companies never have an issue with a potential hire that wants to seemingly know everything about their company and the job posting. It shows you’re interested, so don’t be afraid.

4. Check the Job Scams Lists

New scams are constantly popping up. With each passing year, scammers are becoming more professional and creating new scams that can oftentimes be hard to determine. So what can a job seeker do? If you’re really concerned, you can always search the internet for the job scam. New scams are posted daily, so stay up to date.

5. Never Give Out Information

We can’t stress this enough! Even if the job sounds like your dream job and all the ducks are seemingly in a row, you should never give out any personal information whatsoever. Things like birth dates, bank numbers, social security numbers, and credit reports should all be kept private. Wait until you’re sure the job is real and have had several in-person interviews.

6. Trust Your Instincts

There is nothing quite like that good ole’ gut feeling. If things simply don’t seem to be adding up, or you’re nervous that something is just ‘off’ about the job, then don’t hesitate to trust your instincts and move on. There will be many other jobs on the job board that are right for you. Just stay diligent.


Looking online for your next job is a great place to start- but you have to be cautious of scams. There’s a whole lot of them on the internet, but by following these 17 tips and tricks, you will be able to spot a scam from a mile away and not get sucked into the nightmare. The best thing to do is to check out the company online and never give out personal information.