The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has reported an uptick in job scams since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Work-from-home scams, which have been a massive problem for years, have been especially prevalent while stay-at-home practices have been in place.
For the most part, the scam involves a job candidate completing forms that require personal or sensitive information, or the person is required to “purchase equipment” with part of the proceeds of what turns out to be a fake check, the BBB explains. But other varieties of the scam exist, too.
We used resources from the BBB and Federal Trade Commission along with what we’ve heard from job scam victims to compile the following red flags when it comes to fake work-from-home jobs:
- They involve unusual hiring practices: While most employers are operating outside their norms right now, some processes are stranger than others. Getting a job offer without even a phone interview is undoubtedly one.
- You pay them: Scams can include overpaying your first paycheck and asking you to wire the difference back. Others insist you pay for equipment, training, background checks, or other onboarding “requirements” to do the job. No legitimate employer will ask you to “pay into” working for them.
- The info isn’t quite right: Fake domain names and email addresses can be tricky to spot, but it’s critical to verify that the opportunity you think is on the table is real. Do an internet search to confirm the exact domain of the company you believe is contacting you. Look for slight variations – like a “.net” instead of a “.com.” The FBI recently warned the public about job scams that involve crafty website spoofs of legitimate companies.
- The opportunity is unpublished: If you heard about the job through email, social media, or an online job board, visit the company’s website through an Internet search to verify that the job—or at least the company and recruiter—does, indeed, exist. One helpful tip: government jobs are always listed. If you’re being contacted about an unpublished government job, be skeptical.
- You pay for assistance: Job boards and recruiting firms that charge job seekers to view or be considered for jobs usually aren’t who or what they say they are. A career coach or counselor will legitimately charge for services, but they won’t directly promise to find you a job. A reputable recruiter, on the other hand, will be paid for their services by the employer, not the job candidate.
- Nothing’s in writing: Get a copy of the employment contract and review it thoroughly. You need to know, in writing, basic job details such as your compensation, schedule/hours, job classification, time off policy, how and when you’ll be paid, termination terms, and more. You should be given required forms, including a W-4 and I-9, that must be completed before you can be paid.
We know the job market is tough right now, but don’t fall for a too-good-to-be-true job opportunity. Trust your gut and look for the warning signs that a job could be more trouble than its worth. If you’re searching for a job right now, check out our available opportunities and submit your resume to us.
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