Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Beware Online Interview Scams for Summer Jobs

It's almost May, meaning that many high school and college students are tracking down summer employment. And if you haven't found your summer job yet, you might be feeling a little desperate. But don't let that desperation cloud your better judgment. Scammers are looking to take advantage of online job seekers, especially via Google Hangout interviews.

The summer job scam, in one form or another, has been around for a few years, so here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you don't get scammed this summer.

Signs of a Scam

In some versions of the scam, victims get job offer emails out of the blue, and in others they get responses to job applications. Often, the interview will take place over an online messenger service like Google Hangouts, or the fake hiring manager will ask you to download software and answer questions regarding your qualifications.

Before the interview you may be asked to pay an "interview fee," and after a "successful" interview, you may in turn be told to purchase training materials for your new job. In some instances, you may even get a check that the company asks you to cash and return some of the money.

You may also be asked to provide personal information for hiring and employment purposes: Social Security number, driver's license number, and bank account information (for your paycheck, of course). Be aware that all of this information could be used to access your financial assets or steal your identity.

Better Job Prospects Bureau

So how do you distinguish between real job prospects and a spurious scam? The Better Business Bureau can help:

  • Check the business's website. Scammers frequently post jobs using the names of real companies to lend legitimacy to their cons. Check on the business's website for the position and/or call to confirm.
  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work from home, secret shopper positions or any job with a generic title, such as caregiver or customer service representative. These positions often don't require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this so use these kinds of titles as a hook.
  • If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. If the result comes up in other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam.
  • Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but beware of offers made without an in person interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her.
  • Look for other warning signs. Watch out for communications riddled with typos and bad grammar. If a job posting claims it pays significantly higher than comparable jobs, that is warning sign. If the "hiring manager" is very persistent in his or her communication with you, that's another red flag.

Happy summer job hunting out there, students, and stay safe!

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