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Finding a Job, Avoiding the Scams

Looking for a job can be a full-time job. So when you do come across a promising prospect, you might be tempted to leap before you get a good look.

But job hunters need to know that scammers also are in the mix, posing as real employers. They may pretend to be a business looking to hire, or they may claim they can give you access to special job listings or interviews. Some even guarantee to place you in a job. What’s more, they often advertise in the same places real employers do.

Whatever their angle, job scammers are looking for the same thing — to convince you to send money — or your credit or debit card information — before you catch on to their schemes.

So how do you know when you’re dealing with a scam? The surest sign of a job scam is someone who wants you to pay for the promise of a job. That’s true even when they say they’ve got a job waiting and that the money is for certification or some other fee. If you have to pay, it’s not a job offer.

Some popular job scams to look out for include:

Government and Postal Job Scams: Scammers pretend to have access to special government job listings, or guarantee to get you a job with the postal service. But information about federal and postal job openings is free and available to everyone. Applying also is free. Find out more about federal jobs at, and postal jobs at

Work-at-Home Schemes: Making a great income from home is an appealing prospect. But promises of guaranteed incomes and big returns for little work are the sign of a scam, whether it’s envelope stuffing, craft work, rebate processing, online search work, or medical billing. In reality, you’re left with useless starter kits or certifications, and broken promises.

Mystery Shopping Ads: Getting paid to shop and eat sounds hard to beat, but that email or ad for a mystery shopping job is likely a scam. Con artists send fake checks, convincing you to wire back money before the check bounces. When it does, you’re on the hook for the money you withdrew and sent.

If you’re not sure about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau, and find out what others are saying by entering the company’s or person’s name into a search engine with the word complaints.

And be sure to check out the FTC’s Job Scams video and learn more at, or for Spanish.

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