If ever there were a go-to place for, well, everything, Craigslist might just be it. Founded in 1995 as a list of events happening in the San Francisco area, Craigslist has grown to be one of the most well-known websites for free classified listings and community forums. From housing to garage sales to personal ads to, of course, jobs, Craigslist has it all — including scams. Here’s what should raise a red flag:
No company name
It’s common on Craigslist to find jobs that don’t include the company name, because Craigslist doesn’t require a company to include its name. In fact, they make it easy for companies to post anonymously, so many do. This prevents job-seekers from doing research on the company they’re applying to, and limits your ability to find out whether the company is one that you’d want to work for and whether it’s a scam.
No unique e-mail
Many job postings request that you respond to one of Craigslist’s automatically generated anonymous e-mails, which unfortunately means that you have zero idea who you are actually sending your résumé to. Even if there is a company name in the posting, many scammers will use an anonymous Craigslist e-mail so that you think you’re applying to the company they mentioned even though you’re not.
Check-cashing and wire transfers
Some of the most common job scams on Craigslist are “mystery shopping” jobs in which companies ask to send job seekers large checks ($2,000 for example) which can be deposited into their bank accounts. It seems easy enough — the job seeker gets to keep a percentage of the check as long as they wire the remaining funds back to the company through Western Union.
But the checks are always counterfeit, and once the bank discovers the error, the job seeker is out $2,000 and the scam company walks away with the wired funds from the job seeker’s bank account.
Asking for personal information
Some job scams are simply phishing for personal information, either to steal identities or gain access to banking and credit card information. If you’re searching for jobs on Craigslist, never give out personal information like bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or even your home address. Provide only your e-mail address and phone number as contact information on your résumé.