It’s something New Jersey job seekers definitely need to be aware of.

In this very strong labor market, online employment scams are on the rise.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s division of marketing practices, more than 16,000 employment scam complaints have been filed during the first three months of this year.

Be careful what information you disclose

Michele Siekerka, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said with everyone doing basically everything online these days, we need to use common sense when it comes to the type and amount of personal information we are providing on an application.

“You shouldn’t share any type of personal information that otherwise someone can’t get publicly until you are way far down the hiring process,” she said.

Siekerka said that means if you start to fill out initial paperwork and they ask for your Social Security number and a bank account number for direct deposit, "that should be a burning red flag. There’s no way you should be providing information like that at the start of an application process.”

Don't just hit click

Job seekers should research the companies they apply for.

"If you go on a website and find multiple names of that company that should be a red flag," Siekerka said.

She also noted it is very rare that a company is posting out on a job board and they’re not posting on their own website.

“Look who’s running the company, do a search on the people who are showing up, see if they’re real and showing up in other places, and if they’re showing up in other places what are they showing up in other places doing,” she said.

What to do if you get a new job

Siekerka said if you do get hired for a new job, ask for an employment manual or handbook.

If you’re dealing with a scam company, chances are they will not have such documents available for you to look at.

The bottom line, said Siekerka, whether looking for a job or starting a new one, is “exercise common sense, follow your gut instinct. If someone is asking you a question to provide information that you otherwise immediately feel uncomfortable about, question and say, why do you need that?”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

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