Scammers are taking advantage of job applicants by sending fictitious job offers in the name of several major companies. But beware: It’s a hoax designed to get your personal information.

Job-seekers should be cautious about revealing personal information to those offering employment through online services. Scammers may specifically target applicants looking for work-from-home positions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A common position being offered is “online data entry.” A person receives an email after posting qualifications on one or more job-search websites. The person is told they could be a good fit for Company X and to contact a hiring staff member using an email address available through a free email provider.

The scammer may conduct what seems to be a real interview using a free online meeting service. The hopeful job applicant is told they are hired after a brief hold and may receive an employment letter bearing the company’s logo. The person may get a check (not in the name of the company) with instructions to deposit the check through an ATM or mobile deposit and then to send a photo of the deposit confirmation so the funds are released.

This is all a scam!

Here are some tips to follow to protect yourself:

  • If you receive an email from a company or organization regarding potential employment, contact that company first to find out if it is really hiring for the position advertised. Check the company’s website for a valid phone number. This is especially important if you didn’t apply directly to the company in the first place.
  • Beware of any job offer where the sender’s email account uses one of the many free email account providers. Most legitimate companies use a domain connected to their website. An email address that doesn’t match the company’s domain should be a red flag.
  • Scammers may use a chat bot or other automated response software during the “online interview.” Be wary of a situation where you are required to respond with a specific keyword such as *DONE* or *YES,* as they may be recording your voice to replay later. This is another red flag that you’re not interacting with a real person.
  • Job scams can also involve fake check scams. Never deposit a check from someone you don’t know and trust, especially if you’re asked to forward money to another person you don’t know. You may be stuck paying the bank for any funds withdrawn on the fake check.
  • Asking for payment with gift cards is suspicious. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer. Don’t buy gift cards to send to a person you’ve never met, especially in response to a check received from a person you don’t know.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a job scam, report it to the:

If you believe you may have experienced identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission website at to report the incident and find recovery resources.


Internal Revenue Service: Guide to Employment-related Identity Theft

Federal Trade Commission: Work-at-Home Businesses

Federal Trade Commission: How to Spot, Avoid, and Report Fake Check Scams

Blog post: Knowledge is power in protecting yourself from fraud

Blog post: Don’t be fooled by social engineering

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.