Phone Interview Request: Phone Scam Overview

Phone interview scams can steal your information.The economy has improved since the economic downturn, but many people are still struggling to find work. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 5% of working adults are unemployed. Scam artists conduct phone interview scams to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers.

In the past Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of Flexjobs, warned that many people seeking freelance and work from home jobs were most likely to find jobs that were fraudulent and be victims of scams. However, applicants seeking traditional jobs must be wary of job scams too, in the form of phone interview scams.

How Do Phone Interview Scams Work?

Scammers know that jobless people are often desperate to find work. There are a couple of ways that they can take advantage of frustrated job seekers.

They often begin by posting an ad on Craigslist or another job site. They may also cold-call random numbers until they find someone that needs work. There are several variations of the phone interview scam.

The most common variation is that a scammer will call an applicant to the phony job ad and will conduct an interview in order to obtain personal details. Referred to as voice phishing, this is how scammers steal your identity.

In another variation of this scam, the caller will ask the applicant to make a payment before proceeding to the next step. They may say that this is to cover the costs of running a background check.

Many people that are eager for a job will pay if they believe it will get them hired. You should be suspicious of any company asking for a payment for a job opportunity, this is an immediate red flag.

Another way in which a scammer may try to get personal information is by asking the applicant to submit a W-2 form before the job offer is finalized. The form contains the applicant's social security number, address and other personal information, which allows the scammer to steal your identity.

How to Protect Yourself From This Scam

The FTC reports that job opportunity scams are still highly prevalent, so job seekers need to be cautious. Here are some warning signs to look out for.

You Are Required to Pay a Fee

Legitimate employers and employment agencies don't charge fees to applicants. They want to hire the most qualified candidate and have no reason to take their money. They also have no reason to request your banking information, so you should never share it with a prospective employer.

You Can't Find Any Information on the Company

Scammers often use fictitious business names to sound more reputable. Always do your research to see if these companies are legitimate. If you can't find any information on the firm, then you should consider looking elsewhere. Never send personal information until you have confirmed the job opportunity is real.

The Ad is for a "Previously Undisclosed" Federal Job

The FTC warns that the people behind these scams often advertise positions for "previously undisclosed" federal jobs. The agency states that all federal job listings are a matter of public record, so these positions should be reported for fraud.

How to Report This Scam?

The best way to beat these types of phone scams is by researching a company before you apply to them for a job opportunity. Never feel pressured to give overly sensitive information, like your social security or bank account number, to an interviewer.

If you feel that you've been contacted by a phone interview scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also help warn others about phone interview scams and run searches on unknown numbers that call you with CallerSmart's caller ID app for iPhone and iPad.

If you don't have an iPhone or iPad you can still search unknown phone numbers and leave your feedback to help others in our free online telephone directory.