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The remote job market is ALL THE RAGE right now, which is awesome if you’re looking to finally make the switch to the remote job life.

Unfortunately, there’s always a catch…

Scam jobs and scam companies are popping up all over the place, and it can be hard to tell a real job opportunity from a fake one.

That’s where this blog comes in!

We’ve discussed some telltale signs that a job is a scam over in the Remote Hustle Slack group (get in touch with us if you want in!!) to help keep our friends from falling prey, and here are the top 5 ways we’ve found you can be on the lookout…

1. Demands and payment: Do they really need this?

It’s normal for a job listing to ask for your email address, qualifications, education, and a number of other informative things to help them make their decision regarding who to hire.

But what’s less common — and frankly, pretty eyebrow-raising — is when the employer asks you to list more personal information even before an interview. For example:

  • Credit card or bank information
  • Credit report information
  • Social Security number and birthdate

These things may be necessary once you’re actually hired (particularly if you have to get a background check), but no one should ask for them early on.

Additionally, if the employer asks you, the applicant, to pay for something, you should consider whether this listing is legitimate. Whether they’re asking you to pay for training you’ll undergo or filing an application fee, you can almost always consider this a red flag.

2. Emails / job listing have mistakes or weird wording

Few companies can make it very far without hiring someone who checks for spelling and proper grammar. (Plus, sites like Grammarly can do it for you.)

So if a job listing — or any of the follow-up emails or communication you have with the hiring team — uses poor grammar, fragmented sentences, or clearly wasn’t written by a copywriter, you may want to reconsider. 

Similarly, the job description itself should be clear and straightforward. If the language is too vague, unclear, or leaves you questioning what the position actually is, this could be a sign that the company isn’t real.

Here’s some examples:

Plenty of job listings discuss being “a team player,” “a people person,” “good communication” and all kinds of other non-specific terms. But if a job description you’re looking at only deals with these generic terms, it’s probably best to keep looking.

Any job that is clearly commission-based (where you could theoretically not get paid at all for your work, but the listing won’t say that outright) should raise some eyebrows, as well. Be sure you’re specifically told what you’ll earn at some point in the process.

3. They don’t provide any contact information

Most companies have a company-specific email address.

(If you’re looking to work for someone individually, or a very small company that’s just starting out, this might not be true. In that case, however, you need to be particularly vigilant about legitimacy.)

Job listings that want you to contact personal email addresses or somebody @gmail.com or @yahoo.com might be a scam of some kind.

Sometimes, scammers are tricky. They’ll change the email address just slightly. For example, instead of joe@thebigbakery.com (not a real email address — that we know of…), the scammer might try to get you to contact joe@the_big_bakery.com.

Which brings us to our next point…

If you travel through rural areas, for example, the chances of these problems occurring are high. So it’s important to plan your route in advance to avoid such places.

4. No online presence: You’ve got to do a little research

This is one of the best ways to avoid getting scammed: DO YOUR RESEARCH.

If your potential employer has no online presence whatsoever, it’s probably a safe bet that they don’t exist.

So how can you check?

This is a portable wireless modem known as a “MiFi” that can connect up to 10 devices within 15 meters. MiFis have a more reliable signal than most mobile hotspots, allow you to pay as you go, and even have a built-in phone charger. 

But what if you can’t get a MiFi?

Don’t worry about it — just make sure you have applications that work offline, such as Microsoft Word, Evernote, Pocket, Google Docs, Amazon Kindle, Salesforce, Trello, etc. When in doubt, you can save your projects while you are disconnected from the internet, then send it to your colleagues when you find a data connection. That way, you never lose a beat!

  • Do a little social media / review digging. This isn’t always reliable, however, since some companies do without social media altogether.
  • Find the location of the company’s headquarters on Google Street View and check it out.
  • Alternatively, find a phone number to call and make sure someone actually works there.
  • Another great resource (mostly for companies that purport to be pretty big) is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission database.

5. Unrealistic pay / hours: Ask yourself… could this be real?

Think of it this way: when it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If getting the job requires no interview

If the pay is absolutely incredible compared to the number of hours required to work…

If there are no qualifications at all for the position…

Ask yourself whether this job post could be for a real company. 

At the end of the day, trust your gut. If a job listing seems fishy, it might be best to keep scrolling.

With these tips in mind, we wish you all happy hunting! If you’re looking for leads right now, head over to our Jobs page to check out some of our favorite resources.

Co-written with Loren Alexander Graham.

If you haven’t already, Sign up for our weekly emails for more useful tips and tricks to help you hustle SMARTER, not HARDER.

Molly Mulroy

Words, words, words. That’s pretty much all Molly Mulroy can think about. Sometimes she rewrites one sentence six or seven times until she gets it right - but hey, it’s always worth it. An important part of our team, Molly works remotely from the sunny shores of Rabat, Morocco, bouncing between her apartment and the abundance of espresso-heavy cafes throughout Morocco.

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