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