The boom of remote work has, unfortunately, attracted a lot of scammers into the area as well. It’s not as bad as the crypto scene, but still significant enough to mention. I think.
Luckily, it’s not that hard to avoid these scams and stay safe. Here are the most common scams and tips on spotting and avoiding them.
Weak online presence (or none at all)
Up to date website with open positions, real pictures, and recent accomplishments — that’s what you want to see after a bit of Googling.
Active social accounts with unified design and content are also a good sign.
Articles across the internet mention your potential employer – another step in the right direction.
☝️ This handy query will look for mentions about the company on Medium or Reddit.
On the other side, if their website sounds very vague and unspecific, or you can’t find a list of open positions — you may want to reconsider investing more time here.
It’s too good to be true
It may even feel flattering — offering you the ultimate remote position. But you need to be careful before considering replying to such an opening. Common red flags here include:
- Part time position with a full-time paycheck.
- The pay is way above the industry average.
- You are not (based on your CV) qualified for this position.
Published on social media
I’m just gonna put this one out there:
There, I said it.
Honestly, even paid Facebook / Reddit ads can often be sketchy. Simply because it’s easy to fool the platform with fake profiles.
Twitter and LinkedIn are doing a slightly better job at shutting down scams.
However, the safest option is to apply only for jobs published on well-known remote job boards. This is simply because it’s expensive to post a job on these, and scammers will not invest that kind of money.
Additionally, the job board itself won’t accept sketchy-looking ads in the first place.
If you don’t know any job boards, this comment from a while ago is an excellent place to start.
They are very eager to hire
This is rarely the case with actual companies. Hiring and onboarding is a complicated (and expensive) process. There is no point in pushing the candidate to “get hired” super fast.
Additionally, unless you are a somewhat famous internet persona, getting contacted first should also raise your awareness.
Bad reviews online
Social media and Google are your friends here. Just look for “company X reviews”.
It’s difficult to hide from search engines, so you should be able to dig up everything you need.
You need to pay
Doesn’t really matter for what, honestly. Training, medical, whatever. Just pull a hard stop if anyone mentions any upfront expenses.
There is no reason for you to pay for anything at this (or any) stage. Even if there was a legit reason for you to pay something, do you really want to work for a company like that?
You should get money to equip your home office set up — in the best case. This is still not a common practice (sadly), but that’s a topic for another time.
Just delete the email and get it over with.
Personal information is required way too soon
Banking details, home address, phone number, date of birth, social security number.
Eventually, you will have to provide some information. But if it seems like a priority for the counterpart, be aware. Especially at the beginning of the hiring process. Your skills should be the main topic, not your personal information.
You get the job immediately
If there is no interview, no filter step whatsoever, it’s suspicious. Even the top 1% of employees have to go through those steps. Most likely, you would be working for free the first month, and then they’ll ghost you.
Spelling or grammar errors should not be a thing while dealing with the HR department. Not even for companies outside of the US. Beware of these subtle signs in emails or even the job posting itself.
Email domain doesn’t match the website
Last but not least — if an established company uses Gmail, Outlook, Live, Hotmail, or any other free email service, it is a red flag.