Top Holiday Job Scams and How to Avoid the Traps


Updated November 7, 2017

With the holiday season comes lots of shopping and lots of hiring. Before you accept that side gig to make extra cash for gifts, watch out for signs that the job is actually a scam.

  1. Poorly Written Descriptions

If the job description has spelling or grammatical errors and/or the business’ graphics and logos look unprofessional, then it is best to stay away.

  1. Asking for Payment

If the job description or employer requests you pay an upfront fee for anything, this is a red flag. This might include background or credit checks, drug testing, supplies, certifications, training materials, health insurance, or anything else the employer would normally pay for. After the jobseeker makes the advance payment, they are often informed that told they didn’t get the job or sometimes don’t hear back from the employer at all.

  1. High Pressure Offers

If you receive unsolicited offers from employers that are in a rush to get you to sign up or invest in a business opportunity, this is a common sign of a job scam.

  1. Getting Paid in Advance

Also known as a fake check scam, the scammer sends you a check and asks you to deposit it into your account. They then ask you to forward a portion of it back to them or a third party. The deposited check is actually a fake, and you may be responsible for all funds drawn from its deposit and could face check fraud charges.

  1. Getting Hired Without an Interview

Another red flag that you’re being scammed is receiving a job offer without in-person or telephone interviews. Look out for Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail addresses, instead of a business email address, and receiving emails outside of normal business hours. Another sign is only communicating by email, instant message or text message. If you speak to the person over the phone, complete a reverse phone number search online.

So what can you do to avoid these scams? Here are our top tips to protect yourself from job scams.

  1. Research the Company

Make sure a company is real before you apply for a job you saw posted on a social networking site, in an online ad, or on a job board. A Google search should give you the company’s website, social media profiles, and contact information. If you can’t identify the company’s owner, product, headquarters, or even location, do not apply to the job.

  1. Get a Complete, Written Job Description

Ask for full details or a complete description of the job in writing. If they can’t or won’t provide this to you, you should not accept the job. If you see a job posting from a well-known company, check their official website to verify that the job is legitimate. Some scammers use the name of large, established companies and post fake jobs to lure people into scams.

  1. Protect Your Money

Employers do not ask applicants to pay for background checks, credit reports, administrative fees, materials or training. Never wire payments, send gift cards, or cash to someone you do not know.

  1. Protect Your Personal Information

Do not give out your social security number, birth date, driver’s license number or bank account information for direct deposit, until you have confirmed that the company and job posting is legitimate, and only after you have been made a written offer.

  1. Trust Yourself

If something feels wrong, then it probably is. Trust your intuition and walk away from opportunities that sound too good to be true.