Job opportunities which allow you to work online are becoming increasingly common. Many job seekers are enticed by the thought of working from home and having some flexibility with regards to their work schedule and environment. However, as is the case with many aspects of the Internet, job seekers need to be aware for the possibility of scams and fraudulent activity.

For example, some hackers are looking to steal private information for nefarious purposes. In some cases, they will get unsuspecting job seekers to work for them without paying them, or they may get the individuals to work on illegal tasks unknowingly. You understandably do not want to fall victim to these types of potentially costly or devastating issues, and you can follow a few tips to stay safer while looking for a new job.

Protect Your Devices

The most important thing to do before you start your online job search is to protect your computer with security software. If you haven’t done so already, install strong antivirus and anti-malware software that will keep you safe from online threats. Moreover, make sure your operating system and all your software is regularly updated.

This is the first step to protecting your computer from viruses, spyware and malware which you can encounter when browsing multiple websites in search for a job.

Another important issue to address is the safety of your mobile devices. Many recruiters now use mobile apps for hiring new employees. If you’re going to use your smartphone to search for a job, be careful which apps you install. Also, avoid applying for jobs while using public Wi-Fi. Using these networks is risky as anyone who is also connected can intercept the data you send or receive.

Don’t Share Too Much Personal Information

It is understandable that a legitimate employer may require you to provide your Social Security number, bank account info, birth date and other highly private and sensitive information. However, when you give this information to the wrong people, they can do tremendous harm to you.

Remember that, in general, a legitimate employer will not ask you to submit this information in digital form. Instead, you may provide a Social Security number on an IRS tax form. However, this only happens after you have received a legitimate job offer.

If you are uncomfortable providing personal information in a format the employer is asking for you to use, explain the situation. They should provide you with an alternative that you feel more comfortable with.

Recognize Job Scams

Some of the bogus job offers that you may find online are structured to encourage the largest number of job applicants. For example, they may claim that you don’t need to have any special skills. Some of these scams may involve stuffing envelopes, while other scams may require you to purchase items before you can begin working.

Legitimate employers will not ask you to pay a fee or to buy extra items from them before you can work. They also typically will have a list of skills that the job requires. After all, every job requires at least some skills to complete. You can always check the Better Business Bureau and research a business address online to ensure that the offer is from a legitimate company.

Be Careful of Unsolicited Job Offers

If you receive an email from a company that you have not specifically applied for a job with, it is prudent to be suspicious and cautious. When you receive emails about such job opportunities or offers, pay attention to the email address.

A company will, generally, have its own domain name and related email addresses. If you receive a job offer from a Gmail, Hotmail or other common types of email domains name, be wary. Such an email could be sent from a hacker who wants to steal your personal information. Clicking on links within the email could lead you to a malicious website deigned to install malware on your computer. At all costs, avoid clicking on links in emails from unknown senders.

Use Common Sense

Remember that common sense should prevail in an online job search. If you have an uncomfortable feeling about something or if you feel that an opportunity seems a bit shady, it is best to steer clear of it.

Backing off of communications with a potential hiring company may be wise in this situation. If the company appears to become forceful or overly flexible to entice you to reconsider the offer, this may be a red flag that you should avoid the apparent opportunity.

Final Thoughts

With many online job opportunities available, you may find numerous possibilities that sound enticing. However, job applicants are commonly targeted by hackers and scam artists, and you need to be aware of the possibility that you could be targeted in a potential scam. Criminals may steal your identity, empty your bank account and more. If you are preparing to look for an online job opportunity, follow these tips to reduce the chance that you may become a victim.