How to Check If a Job Offer Is Fake or Genuine

With more people looking for online job opportunities, fake employment offers have become increasingly common. In this article, we share useful ways for you to spot fraudulent job offers and scams.

With job search moving more online, it’s hard to detect whether a job offer or recruiter is in fact genuine. Sadly scammers are on the increase with more and more phony positions appearing on job boards, targeting job seekers who are vulnerable and desperate for work. Their goal is to separate you from your hard earned cash or to steal your identity.

To ensure you don’t become a victim of identity theft, follow these tips to ensure that your exciting new job offer is legitimate!

1. It seems too good to be true

Do you remember the good old saying ‘too good to be true’? If you think that the job offer is, you are probably right. Receiving a starting job offer for over £50,000 per annum is complete nonsense. If you have received this kind of bogus offer, delete the email and list it as spam straight away.

2. The job description is vague

Scammers try to make their fake job offers seems legit by listing job requirements. Usually, these duties are just as ridiculous as the large salary mentioned above: “must be 18 or over, must have access to the internet, no experience necessary, must have a valid passport”. You’ll often see that job-related skills aren’t included in the list. At this point – alarm bells should be ringing! You can choose to ignore the email or ask for a full job description to determine their authenticity. If fake you will most likely receive an answer like: “don’t worry, full training will be provided”.

3. The email text is unprofessional 

Some emails from scammers are professionally written but most often than not you will notice that they are poorly written with many grammatical mistakes. If you receive a job offer letter with capitalization problems, missing commas (or too many) and generally bad English it can indicate that the offer isn’t real. If you have also received an attachment, do not open this, it most likely contains malware that will infect your computer.

4. You've been invited to an online chat interview

You’ve received a fantastic job offer and have been asked to attend an interview on Yahoo messenger. What company in their right mind would interview a candidate by chat? Scammers often give you instructions on setting up a Yahoo IM account and will want to take the information to steal your identity. Most authentic companies interview face to face, unless you are overseas where you will attend a Skype video chat interview.

5. There's no contact information

Another warning sign is when you have received a letter with no contact information, including a telephone number or company address. The company logo will also look distorted or of lower quality. Bear in mind that any official job offer will be written on a company letterhead page which includes their logo and contact information.

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6. The search results don’t add up

Before agreeing to any interview, do your research. If it’s a verified company you will find information on their official website and should also notice how long the company has been listed for. Some scammers go to the extent of creating their own websites, but the more research you do the more it doesn’t add up. You can also use Scamwarners.com that list information on fraudulent activity and also check its authenticity on Scamadviser. If a company has only been registered for a year you should be very cautious.

7. The offer was sent from a personal email

The biggest giveaway is the email address that the job offer has been sent from. If it’s been sent from a free e-mail account like ‘google.com or hotmail.com’ then you should know that it’s fake. Authentic job offers are sent from company registered e-mails. Some scammers create template emails that are similar to the companies but may include a hyphen that some people will not notice. If you are unsure, copy paste the email into a search engine with the word scam after it and look to see if someone else has reported the company.

8. You’re asked to provide confidential information

Many scammers will ask for your bank account information to set up a direct debit for your wage or will ask you to fill out a credit report which will then give them the details to your social insurance number and birth date. Before entering personal information online, check to make sure the website is secure by looking at the web address bar. The address should be a ‘https://’ listed site.

9. It involves money transfers

Sometimes crooks will try to get you to launder money or send illegal packages to you. They might send you a check and ask you to deposit it into your account, for you to keep some and then send the rest to a random account. However enticing a bit of extra cash is, never accept any job involving the transfer of money from your account to another.

10. You’re asked to pay for something

After receiving an irresistible job offer, you are asked to pay for some software that you will be using at work. If it’s an overseas role, scammers will ask you to pay for your visa. If you encounter any of the two circumstances it’s a scam. Legitimate companies will cover any necessary transfer or software costs.  

11. It involves working from home

As fabulous as working from home and making millions sounds – it’s unrealistic. Most scammers will send something like the following:

“This is a work from home job. Work hours is from 9am-4pm Monday-Friday You will earn £45 per hour for this position, you are also expected online at Yahoo messenger during working hours. We also offer flexible hours....”

12. You didn't apply for the job 

The most obvious sign of a fake offer is, of course, a job that you haven’t applied for. Why would a company randomly select you and send you a job offer without any other form of communication with you? If you are applying for multiple jobs, keep a record of the ones you have applied for to ensure you can filter through this kind of spam.

Final thoughts

When you’re job hunting, it can be easy to fall prey to a job scam. Stay one step ahead with the above tips and you’ll find a legitimate job in no time.


Join the discussion! Have you ever received fake job offer? If so, what did you do? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published in July 2013.