Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sorting Out the Craigslist Job Scams

There are hundreds-if not thousands-of job posting websites on the internet, some that cater to specific industries/career fields and others that accommodate all fields. Craigsliststands out among the latter for being both comprehensive and (by and large) free for employers to post their position openings. “Free” can present problems for job seekers, as Craigslist has become a haven for scams and false postings. How do you quickly spot scams on Craigslist? Follow these progressive tips to learn what’s real and what’s fake.

It’s in the name: Take a look at the ad you suspect isn’t real: does it have the name of an actual business in the posting? Sometimes phony Craigslist ads do not list the name of the business in it. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, as there are times when a business (particularly small businesses) wants to maintain anonymity. Treat ads that do not contain the name of the business with suspicion and move on to the next part of your investigation.

Email and phone awareness: Does the ad contain a local phone number or a business-based email address? Again, neither are requirements for legitimate ads but their presence speaks to the ad’s authenticity. It’s not uncommon for scam ads to contain a Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail email address, so treat all of those with suspicion (particularly if they are a derivation of someone’s name, like “joe_schmoe@hotmail.com”). Sometimes, though a business will use one of these email providers as their business email address (such as “fergusonaccoutingspecialists@gmail.com”) so, again, no hard and fast rule here; just something of which to be aware. The final tip, though, will ensure you’re in the clear.

Get your Google on: If the ad passes the email and phone test but you still are not sure of its legitimacy, the most successful-but most time consuming-way to determine it is to copy and paste a random piece of text (I recommend seven to nine words) into Google between quotation marks. If your search produces a lot of listings across many job sites outside of your geographic area (including other cities’ Craigslist sites), it’s a sure-fire scam; stay away from it. If not, you can apply with confidence.

Be wary of Craigslist ads that do not contain a business name, phone number, or professional business email address. Examine them carefully and, when in doubt, use the Google method to protect yourself from scams, cons, and swindles.

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