Craigslist is one of the most popular places for local businesses to post job listings. Millions of people have found great career opportunities after browsing through Craigslist ads – and you can count me as one of them.
Unfortunately, a variety of scammers and con artists also use Craigslist to post listings for jobs that don’t really exist, and when job seekers get sucked into these schemes they find their wallets a lot lighter than when they started.
So, how can you identify these fake job ads on Craigslist and avoid becoming another victim? Look for these 5 warning signs:
1) The job details are vague
Ads for legitimate jobs on Craigslist should have information about the job title and duties that you can clearly understand. If you have made contact with the employer and still have trouble explaining the job details to a friend, then it’s probably a multi-level marketing scheme or Ponzi scheme.
2) The employer asks for payment up front
If an employer ever asks you to pay for “processing fees”, “start up costs” or “application fees” during the hiring process, you should know right away that it’s a job scam. This is a tactic often used by pyramid schemes, where your task is to con other job seekers in the exact same way. You should never have to give an employer any money when you start a new job; even background checks, drug tests and credit checks should be covered by the employer.
3) The employer asks for your credit card number
Anyone who claims they’re giving you a great job and then asks for your credit card information is about to rip you off. This type of scam is often presented on websites that sell “home business opportunities” where you can make money with “no start up costs” and “no hidden fees”. Your credit card information is the only thing they really care about, because once they get it, they can run up charges before you even realize what happened… and if you sign an online agreement, your credit card company might not cancel the charges.
4) The employer does not require a resume or application
Craigslist job ads that don’t require you to fill out a resume or application are almost always frauds. The people behind these con schemes want to lure you into their trap as easy as possible, and skipping over the need for a resume or application makes it easy to con victims who are too lazy to submit them — and too lazy to realize they’re being hoodwinked. When you come across a situation like this, as yourself: “If getting this job is so easy, why is it still available?” There’s always a catch.
5) The employer does not conduct an interview before hiring you
Imagine you’ve just responded to a Craigslist job ad by emailing the employer your resume and contact information. Someone claiming to be from the company’s human resources department calls you back, saying that they approved your resume and want you to start work as soon as possible. You might be thinking you got lucky and found a great opportunity — but in reality, you’re probably walking into a scam.
Any job opening that does not require a live interview at some point should immediately raise suspicion — especially on Craigslist, where only local jobs should be posted. How could the employer know you are a good candidate for the job — but more importantly, how do you know the employer is legitimate — without sitting down for an in-person evaluation?
If the people behind the job ad don’t meet with you before hiring you, then it’s likely that they want to remain anonymous. That way, you can’t track them down or identify them to investigators after you realize you’ve been ripped off.
For more job scam warning signs to watch out for, check out the list compiled by About.com.
…and if you really need some extra cash until you find that dream job, try out Craigslist Unlocked, which has tons of advice on how you can make money selling your own household goods online.