How to spot a job scam – no matter how sophisticated

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Wisconsin warns applying for a job online can be risky business these days, and since many employers (even local ones) now work with third-party job sites, it’s important to know what to watch for.
If you are applying to jobs online, constantly research before accepting an interview or employment offer. Job scammers have gotten very sophisticated, convincingly claiming to represent real employers, requiring interviews, and even providing phony job offer letters. These cunning new twists on traditional job scams have increased in BBB’s Scam Tracker. In fact, according to BBB’s latest Scam Tracker Risk Report, employment scams climbed to the second most risky scam type – after online purchases.
How this scam works
• You apply online through a reputable, third-party job-seeking site. A few days or weeks later, you get a text message or email asking if you are still interested in the position or a similar one at the same company. Since you made your contact information available to your potential employer when applying, the message doesn’t strike you as unusual.
• If you reply to the message, the scammer will invite you to interview for the job. This is when red flags start to appear. Instead of doing a traditional interview, the “employer” asks you to download a messaging app and answer a few questions via text. Then, you’re offered the position on the spot, with great pay and benefits. Your new “employer” may even send you a convincing offer letter. After your “job offer,” the phony employer asks you to complete a form with your personal and banking information, claiming they need it for direct deposit. In other cases, the scammer may ask you to set up a home office, either with your funds or money they’ll send you in a (fake) check.
• If you send money or share your personal details, it will now be in the hands of scammers. You’re unlikely to get your money back, and your shared personal information puts you at risk of identity theft.
How to avoid similar scams:
• Research the person who contacted you. If you suspect the person contacting you could be a scammer, look them up. A quick online search should reveal if they work for the company they claim to represent.
• Do more research on the company. You may have done this before you applied for the position. Still, if you get a surprise offer to interview, it’s worth doing more research to learn more about their hiring process, home office requirements, salaries, and benefits packages. If these don’t align with your offer, you could be dealing with a scammer.
• Don’t fall for jobs that seem too good to be true. They probably are. If you are offered a job – without a formal interview – that has excellent pay and benefits, it’s likely a scam.
For more information, go to
Read more about employment scams in BBB’s 2022 Scam Tracker Risk Report on the website. Learn to spot the signs of a scam by reviewing the BBB Tip: Employment Scams available online and read more about job scams in their job scam study.
Also, if you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. By reporting your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414.847.6000 or 1.800.273.1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.

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