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How to Check the Legitimacy of a Business

An employer and employee shaking hands.

If you’ve spent any time on the internet you’ll know that scams are everywhere. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or interest you have, there’s a scam for it out there.

Sadly, a lot of these scams target vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly, and even job seekers.

If you’re looking for a job, or are an interested entrepreneur, keep an eye out for illegitimate businesses and save yourself from wasting time and money. Even if the business isn’t completely fake, it may have questionable practices.

Be Aware of Fake Recruiters

While searching for a new job, it’s tempting to submit an application to every job posting you see. Large job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed make it easy to apply to a lot of jobs in a short amount of time.

Applying for jobs without reading descriptions or discerning if the job is a good fit is not a good way to find a job. Taking the time to read descriptions and find postings that match your experience will increase your chances of getting hired.

Job seekers who apply for a smaller number of jobs not only increase their chance of getting a job, but they decrease their chance of getting scammed.

Applying for jobs can feel like a full-time job. Instead of trying to do it all on your own, take advantage of the free career resources to help you get hired through the Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) at Yavapai College.

Know How to Spot Hiring Scams

Fake businesses are easy to spot if you know what to look for. Here are some indications of hiring scams and illegitimate businesses.

A job search site open on a laptop

Offers That Seem Too Good To Be True

When looking through job postings, you’ll notice some have interesting pay promises. Job descriptions with extraordinary income offers are usually too good to be true.

Another common scam characteristic to look for is large salary ranges. If a company is offering $50k-$350k a year it’s either a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM), a legitimate sales position with a predatory approach to compensation, or just fake.

Vague Requirements

Look out for requirements that almost anyone can fill. They may include things that don’t apply to the job title. Fake job descriptions will often include vague requirements like:

  • Typing

  • Literacy

  • Legal age

  • A driver's license

Be aware that some of these requirements can be legitimate needs for some jobs. Content writers, for example, are required to type, but that requirement will usually include a word per minute qualifier if it shows up in a job description.

Vague Job Description

Job descriptions that are vague or hard to understand should raise some red flags. Be on the lookout for descriptions like:

  • “You will be working from home. You’ll be required to use Google Chat to track your progress. You will work 20 hours a week. Hours are flexible.”

  • “Enter data from home. Earn $50 an hour. Work as part of a team.”

Notice how neither of these job descriptions gives you any important information about the company or position. Legitimate job descriptions will include a lot of details about what you’ll be doing. Look for specifics like:

  • Who your direct reportee will be

  • What you will be responsible for

  • How the job fits into the business’ operations

Pushy Recruiters

Recruiters want to hire the right person for the job. Therefore, they’ll want to know more about you. Legitimate businesses will require at least one interview.

If the hiring process seems to be going quickly, slow down. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Quick responses: If the recruiter is responding to your emails within minutes, be wary. It’s very common for illegitimate businesses to have automated responses. That’s how they’re able to review your answers to interview questions within minutes.

  • Quick job offers: Getting a job offer quickly after applying can be a sign of illegitimacy. Though you may be more than qualified, simply submitting an application or answering preliminary questions isn’t enough to get you an instant job offer.

  • Limited time offer: If a recruiter offers you a job with a time limit on your response, that’s a major red flag. They’re trying to pressure you into making a decision quickly. The hiring process is often a multistep endeavor that could take a while. Don’t let a pushy recruiter trick you into making a bad decision.

A woman smiling and pumping her fist while looking at a job offer email.

Asking For You To Cover Upfront Costs

Legitimate businesses will cover the cost of onboarding, and any required uniform or equipment. In some cases, employers may even cover the cost of moving. On the other hand, fake businesses might ask you to cover upfront charges or buy equipment.

Business scams often ask for your payment methods like credit card numbers. Never give a hiring agent any personal information like credit card details, bank account information, or social security numbers.

How to Check if a Business is Legit

You don’t need to respond to an odd job offer right away. Step away for a little bit and do some research.

Meet With Someone From the Business in Person

Going to job fairs is a great way to introduce yourself to businesses that at least have a physical presence. You’ll still want to do some research, but being able to talk with someone face-to-face will help you get a pulse on the legitimacy of the business.

Check out local events calendars and attend as many as possible. Yavapai County has several job fairs and networking opportunities that can be found through the REDC at Yavapai College.

Look Over the Company’s Website

Nowadays, everyone has a website—even scammers. To check if a company is legitimate, look over their website and check for:

  • Inconsistent branding or design quality

  • Grammatical errors

  • Overusing stock images

  • Little to no information

  • Testimonials that don’t make sense or are over-positive

  • A URL that doesn’t match the company name

When you consider working for any company, it’s also a good idea to check the company website and make sure its mission statement, vision, and core values align with your own.

Note any Grammatical Errors

Legitimate businesses will take time to check for spelling and grammar errors. Emails littered with sentences that don’t make sense or over-simple language is almost a sure sign the business is illegitimate.

Someone editing a document with red ink.

Search the Business Name

It’s amazing what you can find from a simple Google search. Look for other sites reviewing their product, talking about what it’s like to work for them, or reporting on any news.

You can also look up the business name alongside the word “scam.” Some sites are dedicated to finding and exposing fake businesses. Searching this might reveal that the business is fake.

Check Their Email Address

If a business is legitimate, they’ll put in the effort to make it known. One area scammers often miss the mark is their email.

Business emails should use their own business domain. If you’re receiving emails from a company, check the address and see if it aligns with the company's branding. Although it doesn’t prove you’re dealing with a scam, be wary of businesses that use pedestrian email domains like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL.

Check the Address and Phone Number

Most company websites will include their address and phone number. Look up their address and check what their offices look like. In some cases, you may find the location doesn’t align with what the company says it does.

Give the company a call, and ask some basic questions. If they’re helpful and answer your questions, there’s a good chance the business is legitimate.

Follow Your Instincts

Sometimes you just know when something is off. Listen to your instincts and don’t let exciting new opportunities cloud your judgment.

Apply for Real Jobs From Legitimate Businesses

Being unemployed or at a job that isn’t working for you is difficult. Fake businesses and job board scams only make the process harder. Explore careers, fields of study, and education programs through Pipeline AZ at Yavapai College.

We’re dedicated to building strong communities and increasing opportunities for residents through economic development. Boost your resume through our wide catalog of on-demand courses and bundles.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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