During the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become more necessary than ever. Using modern technology, we can work from home offices without the need to commute, thus limiting our potential exposure and maintaining social distance. Unfortunately, this also puts those on the job hunt at a higher risk of being scammed. Unscrupulous individuals use remote job scams as an opportunity to collect personal information, hack accounts and computers, and gather private financial data.

Luckily, there are a variety of ways that you can keep yourself safe from remote job scams. Your first line of defense is learning to identify scams, allowing you to recognize them before you give out any personal information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, online attacks have actually seen an 800% surge. However, cyberattacks aren’t the only type of online threat you need to be wary of. If you’re seeking employment, spend some time educating yourself about remote job scams using the following tips.

Avoid Job Ads That Seem Too Good to Be True

If a remote job opportunity sounds too perfect, it probably is. Avoid advertisements that promise you thousands of dollars a week for simple tasks, such as data entry or checking your email, for example. These are often scams and may actually involve you in criminal activity. Psychological studies show that we form first impressions within the first 17 seconds after meeting a new person. However, with an online scam, you don’t have this intuitive advantage to work in your favor. Since you can’t use visual cues to assess someone’s motives, you have to trust your reading skills and avoid jobs that look unrealistic.

Skip Over Poorly Written Job Ads

Keep your distance from poorly written job advertisements, as well. Reputable companies typically spend the time necessary to proofread their postings and make sure that they’re written correctly. Avoid ads with numerous typos, excessive capitalization and exclamation points, spelling errors, and overly exaggerated language. These are all signs that the ad may not be a legitimate work-from-home offering and may instead be a scam.

Don’t Apply For Jobs with Unrealistic Urgency

Don’t apply to job ads that feature a sense of artificial urgency. These ads are likely remote job scams and may be written by cyber attackers who are trying to gather your information to use against you. While a hacking attack happens every 39 seconds, you may not realize that simply applying to a remote job could put your private information and your accounts at risk. This is especially true if the process requires you to click on links or provide private information that the bad actors can then use against you.

Ignore Offers That Come Out of the Blue

If a company contacts you online with no previous connection through social networking, past history, or previous employment and offers you a position through email, it’s probably best to simply delete the email and go on with your day. This is especially true if the email asks you to take a specific action, such as submitting information through a web form or clicking on a suspicious link. These types of actions can expose you to viruses and malware, thus providing hackers with a way to reach your personal files. Instead, report the email as spam or a phishing attempt through your email software and let the experts handle it.

Don’t waste your time (and potentially risk exposing your personal data) with obvious remote work scams. Instead, spend your time preparing a resume and cover letter and searching for remote work through job boards, job lists, and social networking groups. Always research the employer before applying and look out for red flags. This allows you to be in charge of your search for remote work and helps limit your exposure to dangerous cyber attackers.