Hunting for that perfect job is a lot of work. So if you get a message from a company that saw your resume on one of the big job sites, do you jump on the opportunity?

That’s what Donna Glascock did, but it turned out the dream job she was about to start was a giant scam.

As KSDK reported, Glascock was given every reason to believe that she was being offered a job she was qualified for, with the benefits and perks she wanted. The offer came from what appeared to be a legitimate company based in Europe that needed someone in the USA to handle money transfers for the business.

She was given a contract, written on the letterhead of Phoenix Surgical Instruments, a real company based in the United Kingdom. All she had to do was fill in her bank account and routing number for her direct deposit paychecks.

That’s when she became suspicious. She looked up the company and found out it was real, but after calling their offices, learned that the position she was offered was completely bogus—and so was her employment contract.

Scam artists have long preyed on vulnerable folks. By giving them hope, scammers are able to gather sensitive information people would otherwise never hand over to a stranger.

Job seekers are especially vulnerable because sensitive information, such as Social Security number, date of birth, and banking information, is commonly exchanged during the employment process for tax and legal purposes.

If you’re looking for jobs online, here’s how to avoid being the victim of one of these scams.

Keep track of the information you post

Posting your resume online comes with risks. In addition to your contact information, your resume has a lot of data that can be used by scammers.

They might call you and pretend to be an old collegue at a previous job. They know you, your number, and the places you’ve worked. They might have researched the workplace on a site such as Glassdoor and learned enough to be believable. And as you struggle to remember them, you might not notice them manipulating the conversation in such a way that you give up more information.

An offer of employment is another common scam that results from having your resume posted publicly. You’ve never heard of the company before, or you don’t remember applying there, but they have your name and information and have made the decision to hire you without speaking to you previously.

That’s either a very bad headhunter or a scam artist gaining your trust.

If you post your resume on sites such as LinkedIn or Monster, remember that the information is just as accessible to people who conduct resume scams as it is to leigitmate employers. Be cautious about all communication with someone reaching out to you based on having stumbled across your resume.

Research all companies that contact you

If a headhunter or a representative of a company reaches out to you because they are hiring, take time to research the company and the position prior to handing over any personal information.

Visit the company’s website, look specifically at their job postings, and verify as much information as possible.

  • Check email addresses and contact information

If someone claims to represent a company, their email address should match the company’s corporate standard. The exception to this rule is staffing agencies, which will have their own verifiable domain name.

Do a search for the exact phone number and/or email address of the person who contacted you. See if that information appears in reference to the actual company, or on any scam reporting site.

  • Call the office using the official phone number for verification

If you get to a point where you are being asked for personal information that could be used to steal your identity, call the company using their publicly-listed phone number and ask to speak to the HR department. Verify that your job offer is real. No one would fault you for being cautious, and if their company is being used as part of a scam, they’ll want to know.

Look out for red flags

red flags can alert you to resume scams
When looking for jobs online, watch out for these common red flags. (Photo Credit: Rutger van Waveren)

Have you seen a job posting riddled with typos and grammatical errors? If so, it might not be legitimate. Many resume scams originate in other countries where English isn’t as common, and where they face reduced risk of lawsuits.

Scam artists themselves depend on the gullible to keep their operation going, and if you’re clued in enough to notice bad grammar, you’re more likely to ask questions and disrupt the scam.

Getting a good job without an interview is incredibly unlikely. Why would a company offer you a contract without so much as interviewing you first?

Watch out for any company that sells itself too much. If at any point it seems like someone is selling you on the job more than you are trying to sell them on your ability, be aware.

It is possible to find a job online. And with a little caution, you can find your dream job. Just make sure you don’t fall for these resume scams.

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James Hu

James Hu is the founder and CEO of Jobscan, a web tool that helps job seekers land interviews by optimizing resume keywords.

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