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Job scams powered by ChatGPT could try to rob you. How to protect yourself

As layoffs have created more job seekers, scammers are using AI chatbots to create fake listings to steal money and data. Don't miss these safety tips.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Amy Lieu
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The tech and digital media industry has been hit hard with recent layoffs. And simultaneously, further advancements in generative AI have allowed scammers to target desperate workers looking for a job. 

Also: Ghost jobs are haunting job sites. Here's how to spot them

You can find job scams on career sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. But sometimes, scammers will directly contact people searching for jobs to lure them into clicking malicious links and sharing sensitive personal information. 

These scammers, posing as employers or recruiters, can be great at making their profiles look legitimate. But there are a few clues and preventative actions you can take to ensure your identity doesn't get stolen in your job search.

How to spot a job scam

1. Check for unrealistic promises

First, if it's too good to be true, it probably is. 

If someone promises that you can make thousands of dollars a month working a suspiciously easy job with very few hours, it's probably a scam. Unrealistic job descriptions will usually be vague and general, while an actual job posting will have a detailed, succinct description of job responsibilities and expectations.

Also: How to flawlessly answer the 'Tell me about yourself' interview question

Fake recruiters will also ask you very early on to provide them with a payment method. They will usually say you're paying for a laptop or the laptop's shipping, so you'll need to provide your bank information for them to deposit your reimbursement funds. 

Don't give them your bank information, as they will wipe out your account, and it can be a headache to deal with your bank to retrieve your money. Sometimes, these scammers will ask for other personal information like your social security number, bank verification number, or credit card information.

In past years, it could be pretty easy to spot a job scam, as a telltale sign would be that a job post was written with poor grammar. Misspellings and numerous grammatical errors are bright red indicators that a job listing is a scam.

Also: How to use ChatGPT to build your resume

But as generative AI becomes more advanced, chatbots like ChatGPT can be leveraged to write impressively sophisticated job descriptions. If a job scammer uses AI to write a job description, you'll have to pay closer attention to the recruiter's identity to determine if the listing is fake.

Screenshot of ChatGPT writing a job listing for a tech journalist

ChatGPT wrote an accurate and professional-looking job ad for a technology journalist.

Screenshot by Jada Jones/ZDNET

2. Verify the job recruiter's identity

First, check the email address that a recruiter is contacting you with. If it appears to be a personal email or a misspelled one, then that is a red flag. Recruiters should contact you from a company email address. 

If a fake recruiter contacts you on a site like LinkedIn or Indeed, do your research to ensure they work at the company that's hiring. Check their connections to ensure they know other people working at the company. If they have few connections or none are linked to the hiring company, remain skeptical of the job offer.

Also:Phishing email scams: What you need to know to protect yourself

If a scammer is particularly thorough, then look up the company they are advertising for online. Check to ensure the company is legitimate and see if other people online can say anything about working for that company. 

Here is an example of a job scam.

A 2023 Better Business Bureau study shows an example of a job posting scam that asks for your bank account information.

Better Business Bureau

3. Protect yourself if you've been scammed

If you think you've been scammed by a job application online, you should stop communicating with the suspected scammer. If you gave the suspected scammer access to your bank account or credit card, you should immediately call your bank and close all of your accounts there.

If you gave a scammer your social security number or credit card information, then freeze your credit and contact the credit bureau. Then, report the job listing if it's on a site like LinkedIn or Indeed. 

Also: What the 'new automation' means for technology careers

In addition, you can file a phony job report with the Federal Trade Commission or one through the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker. 

Finally, contact your local police department and file a police report. 

But most importantly, if a fraudulent job listing has scammed you, don't give up hope in your job search because there are still legitimate jobs out there.

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