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Nurse Fern: Remote Nursing Job Scams: Avoid These Red Flags - March 1, 2023

By Payton Sy, BSN, RN

March 1, 2023




Once you begin your job search for a remote nursing job, you…

👉Are competing against many other applicants

👉Are in a market where demand is sometimes greater than supply

👉Are maybe starting to feel a little discouraged

🚨All of the above leave you vulnerable to scams.


Scams and recruitment fraud are more prevalent during times of economic uncertainty. Scammers are usually after two things: your personal information, or your money. Let’s dive into common elements of scams and how to avoid them during a remote nursing job search.


1. Spelling Grammatical Errors


Spelling and grammatical errors are the low-hanging fruit of discovering a scam. It’s the first thing that will trigger you to ask, “is this a scam?”

  • Basic spelling and grammatical errors. “We are excited for you join our company”

  • Dialect differences. This in itself doesn’t indicate a scam but may give you pause in combination with other factors. If you notice overly formal English or UK-based English when you are US-based, be a little suspicious.

  • Incomplete documentation. “Thank you for applying to the position for remote.” (remote what?)


2. Interviews Over Text or Chat Apps


An easygoing interview over a text app or SMS sounds like a sweet deal, but it’s not the standard process for recruiting. A reputable company will take the time to see the faces and hear the voices of their candidates.

Madeline Mann, Human Resources Leader & Career Strategist at Self Made Millennial, Los Angeles CA says, “If the interview process is very fast and seems to lack evaluation of your skillsets and they seem to be ‘going through the motions’ and then rushing to a remote nursing job offer before you have time to evaluate the opportunity, it may be a scam. This is not guaranteed though, as some companies do have fast hiring processes.”

Some companies do send text messages as part of the screening process. Humana and a few other companies openly advertise this in their job postings. However, a formal interview will always follow if you are selected as an official candidate.


3. Unprofessional Equipment Processes


Almost all remote nursing jobs will require specialized equipment.

It’s the company’s jurisdiction to provide the equipment necessary for you to perform your job functions. Just like your unit doesn’t require you to use a personal phone to answer patient calls, a remote nursing job will provide you with your supplies.

Contract employees and those that work for smaller companies may be responsible for procuring their own equipment. If this is the process you’re confronted with in a new role, be sure to screen the legitimacy of the job posting and company.


Red flags to watch for:

  • Asking you to buy your own equipment, with the promise of being reimbursed. Mann says “often what they will have you do is order these things from a seemingly legitimate website, but they control that site and take your credit card information”

  • Asking you to cash a check or a money order in order to “buy equipment”. It seems harmless but they will trick you into paying them the money back, and then some

  • Asking you to use an app like Venmo or Cash App to accept funds to buy equipment or send the scammer funds to “buy the equipment for you”

If you are sent a check in the mail, bring it to your local bank and explain the situation. They will be able to give a second opinion before you cash in the check based on how the check looks, prior scam complaints, and their professional experience. If they think the check is a fraud, they will help you report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency.


4. Suspicious Asks for Personal Information


There are many ways for companies to coax you into divulging your personal information. The most common involves the legal documents that the government requires employers to have on file: the W-4 and the I-9.

Daniel Farber Huang, a New York City privacy expert and author of ‘GET LOST: Personal Privacy Strategies for Extremely Busy People’ says, “Until you are formally hired, there are very few reasons to provide a social security number or date of birth. If a background check is required where you are asked for that or other sensitive information, use your judgment on when it’s appropriate to share your data.” There’s also no reason to put your address on a job application – putting the city and state is sufficient.


The W-4

A W-4 is the tax form you fill out upon employment and a W-2 is what the company returns to you during tax season. Usually, a W-4 is completed on the first day of employment, and definitely not before you receive and accept a formal offer.

If a company asks for you to fill out a W-2 (which would be the wrong document) or requests you to fill out a W-4 before you have an offer, that’s a red flag.

It’s also illegal for employers to fill out your W-4 for you or coach you on how to fill it out. So if the recruiter asks you for your personal information to fill it out for you, it’s a scam.


The I-9


An I-9 is the other employment document that requires sensitive personal information.


I-9s can be filled out as late as 3 business days after your hire date. I-9s should never be filled out before formal acceptance of an offer with a planned start date. An I-9 requires a combination of documents that establish your identity as well as your eligibility to work.

A reputable employer will send you the I-9 instructions directly from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services so you can determine which combination of identification documents is appropriate to send. If the employer tells you they just need to see your passport, for example, instead of following the formal I-9 process, it’s a scam.


How to Avoid and Screen for Scams

There are two main ways to screen something that may be a scam: vetting the recruiter and vetting the company.


Screening the Company

If you’ve heard of the company, you can skip this step. This is for companies you have never heard of, or that claim to be startups.

  • Search the company on Google and check out their website. The website should be complete, professional, visually appealing, and updated

  • Check for any social proof on the website. Do they have an accreditation? Were they featured on a popular news channel? If so, verify that social proof outside of the website itself by looking up the certification, article, or video that solidifies their brand

  • Check the address of the company. They should have a physical address that you can look up on Google Maps


Screening the Recruiter

If the recruiter states they are from a reputable company that you’ve heard of, or you vetted the company already, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a scam.


If you have suspicions:

  • Look up the recruiter on LinkedIn to see their photo, profile, and employment history

  • Mann suggests checking out the recruiter’s email address. It should be “Name@company.com” and not “Name@hiring.company.com”, or Name.company@gmail.com. It should match the emails of other employees of that company, which you can verify at websites like hunter.io or snov.io. There are some external recruiters that hire for multiple companies, so this isn’t an instant scam detection.

  • Ask the recruiter for the remote nursing job reference number and job title. There’s no reason to hesitate to give you that information unless the job posting isn’t real.

  • Farber recommends calling the company’s HR department directly. Give them the recruiter’s name, your reference number, and job title, and have them verify the recruiter works for them and the job is legitimate.


Too Good To Be True…?


You know how the phrase goes – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!

If you feel uncomfortable or like a recruiter is being pushy, it’s not worth the risk. Landing a remote nursing job can be challenging, but don’t let your application fatigue make you susceptible to compromising your personal information or finances.

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