How To Research a Company

job interview 150x150 How To Research a CompanyIt’s all very well for the BBB to tell you: Do your homework. But how can you, if you’re not sure what to do?

Last week I was looking for some freelance writing work (with the full permission of my CEO) and came across a job posted on a blog board. It  asked me to click a link. I didn’t.

I emailed the company instead, pointing out that I’m hardly going to click on an unknown link on an unknown site. I’m sure you understand, I said. They did.

I got an email that appeared to come from a real person, with a phone number and address in Arizona. It was grammatically correct and the spelling was perfect. The lady in question said she would contact me for a telephone interview—another point in the column of Probably Not A Scam.

Of course, the very FIRST thing I did was to run the company name, website, and phone number through www.bbb.org. Unfortunately, we had no information on them. That happens sometimes. But I didn’t stop there.

I entered the phone number in an online telephone directory and it came up in the state it was supposed to. I looked for an online map of the location. Yes, there is an occupied office building there. I went to the Secretary of State’s page and verified that the company is properly registered. I double-checked the address. It was the same. I went to www.irs.gov and found the company yet again.

Finally, I went to their website. In addition to triple-verifying whatever information I could there, I read that the company was started by a grant from a non-profit foundation. I wrote down the name of that foundation and went to their webpage. Check.

I’ll probably take this contract job, providing that the telephone interview goes as I expect: 1) They will want to know my qualifications 2) They will not ask for personal information such as my SSN unless I actually get the job and 3) They will expect me to have questions for them.

Remember, if you find a job offer online and you’re not sure what to do to verify its legitimacy, you can always call or email your local BBB office. 

To summarize. Doing your homework on a company can include:

  • Checking with www.bbb.org and other trusted sites
  • Googling the company name plus the word “scam”
  • Verifying with the IRS, and the Secretary of State where the business is located
  • Asking your state Attorney General’s office if the business is on their radar for any reason
  • Searching the Internet for the company’s physical location or checking with the Post Office to see if this is a legitimate address
  • Never click on a link from an unknown sender, and never give out your personal information to strangers unless you can verify their legitimacy 

 

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.