How to Avoid Job and Employment Scams on Craigslist

Woman holding bank card using laptop
••• PM Images / Getty Images

Craigslist, well-known classified ads online site, allows users to post job listings for free in some cities and charges a small fee for other cities. The site's earned a reputation for having many job scams, and these scam positions often have generic job titles, such as "Administrative Assistant" or "Customer Service Representative," and often say that you can work from home.

The listings usually lack a specific company location or say that they're international. Accordingly, they can say they cannot interview you in person. Learn to spot these and other employment scams so you can avoid wasting your time on a job that will never pan out.

Avoid Craigslist Job Scams

To avoid Craigslist scams, keep an eye out for the red flags listed below. Research companies before applying to jobs to ensure that the information on the listing matches that on the website. Tread carefully with companies that do not list any contact information or a website on their job posting, and also do not share it in follow-up email communications.

Do not send writing samples, your resume, or any contact information before you are confident a listing is not a scam, and never, ever send money through a Craigslist listing. Your choice of search keywords can also help you avoid scams. Be as specific as you can and, if possible, list both a specific job title and location to evade these scam listings.

Red Flags—Signs That a Craigslist Job Post Isn't Real

The following are some tip-offs that a job listing on Craigslist may actually be a scam.

A generic job posting. Be wary of very vague job postings on Craigslist. Typically, a job advertisement includes information about the position, details on the company, and a specific job title. While some companies may post on Craigslist out of a desire for anonymity, if the post does not include a specific job title or outline the position's responsibilities, it's a potential sign that the listing is a scam.

Poor grammar, typos, and an unprofessional look. Regardless of where it's posted, a job listing should appear professional. Typos, grammatical errors, slang, or excessive amounts of exclamation marks are all red flags.

The pay is really, really good. If the pay seems a little too good to be true, it might very well be a scam. That's particularly true for jobs that do not require a lot of experience. 

A request for fees. Legitimate employers don't ever ask job applicants to pay for anything related to job applications or hiring. If a listing mentions fees, or if you get an email requesting them, avoid further communication. In addition, remember that legitimate employers will never ask for bank account information prior to hiring you and then it would be only for setting up direct deposit after you are employed ​with the company.​​

More Craiglist Fraud

These job scams will ask you to send money and/or set up a bank account to receive paychecks (which, if sent to you, are not legitimate). Other Craigslist employment related scams ask you to subscribe to a site where you can find more job listings, or have you join a site to receive web training.

Some scams will ask you to pay for a background check or credit check as a condition of employment. Others, once you have responded to the posting, will ask for your bank account or credit card information to process your application or start the hiring process. Some of these companies will instruct you to wire money for a training kit or employment supplies.

Craigslist Job Warnings

Craigslist provides a warning regarding some of the typical scams that could be listed in the Jobs section of the site. The scam postings may list jobs which aren't legitimate, offer a chance to participate in paid research studies that don't exist, or list other fake opportunities to supposedly earn money.

The job seeker is then directed to fee-based services and sites where you are instructed to enter personal information that is used for identity theft. Those sites include:

  • Background checking services
  • A credit check or credit report
  • Sites where you are directed to enter your resume, bank account, or credit card numbers, or other personal information
  • Sites where you are asked to sign up for a "free" trial offer
  • Sites offering fee-based training or education
  • Sites offering opportunities for making money
  • Survey or focus group sites
  • Sites designed to deliver malware or misuse your personal information

Craigslist does have many legitimate job listings, so don't get discouraged. Simply be cautious when applying for jobs and giving out personal information.