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Years ago, singer Michael MacDonald wrote the hit song "What a Fool Believes" with the line:

"But what a fool believes...he sees.
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems...to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all"

It's a love song. But these words of wisdom could apply in other situations, namely, scam job openings! Don't be fooled!

When you've polished up your resume, practiced interview questions, and gear up to click the "Submit" button online, you might wish to take a moment and make sure the place you're sending a portion of your personal information is in fact legitimate.

As the singer's lyrics suggest, sometimes you have trouble reasoning away the idea that the job you're applying for is real. It may seem to be something it is not. And, if you don't currently have a job, you might feel some degree of satisfaction applying for numerous jobs since what seems to be an opportunity appears to be better than what you have now — nothing at all.

So, what can you do to make sure you avoid scam job openings? Let's explore this important topic!

Do Your Homework!

If you have any doubts as to the legitimacy of a job board or online job application service, check it out thoroughly. Make sure that the online representation is true and an actual business. Wanna check into what's happening at a large company? Check out Dunn & Bradstreet. There, you'll find "quality business information". Some companies register for a specific identifier that helps you recognize their legitimacy as a business. This identifier is called a D-U-N-S® Number. For example, on the D&B website, you learn that,

"D-U-N-S Number - Created in 1962, the Data Universal Numbering System or D-U-N-S Number is D&B's copyrighted, proprietary means of identifying business entities on a location-specific basis. Assigned and maintained solely by D&B, this unique nine-digit identification number has been assigned to over 200 million businesses worldwide."

Wanna check into a small business? One resource that might be helpful is Manta.com. There, you can search smaller companies, view their management, locations, and other important information such as revenue; as well as learn which business category they fall into. Manta also helps you find website links or even read the latest press coverage from these small businesses.

Look up the company claiming to have a job opening. Look up the careers listed on their website. Call them to verify and validate the existence of an actual job opening. These are just two companies that can help you do your homework.

Never Give Out Too Much Personal Information

Your resume includes lots of personal information. As such, you should guard this information. The internet has too many tools available that make it easy for you to become a victim of identity theft.

When applying online, some job application questions and requests for personal information should catch your attention. Never give out information that you normally would not share with strangers. For example, bank account numbers, credit card information, User Names/Passwords, etc. should raise some red flags if you encounter such requests during an online job application experience.

If you think you've been approached or somehow discovered a scam job opening, the first thing you can do is leave the website immediately! You should also consider running any anti-virus software, as many of these job scam websites have malware or viruses that can not only damage your computer, but your personal information and reputation as well. Finally, you might consider reporting the scam job opening to an agency known as The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IC3 has a website with plenty of information and a place to file a complaint if you suspect something's fishy with the job opening or anything online.

In closing, here's a list of a few things you might also consider:

  • Ask around. Your friends might know specifics about a job you've heard of and aren't sure about.
  • Check the About Us section on what appears to be a legitimate company website. If there is no About Us section or an address, phone number, leadership, or other identifiers, you might wish to check things out a bit more to make sure all you're seeing is real.
  • Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Have you ever experienced a scam job opening? What did you do?