Are you too smart to fall for an online job scam? Think again. Scammers are impersonating companies like Amazon and even staffing companies and job search firms in order to take advantage of job seekers.
Fortunately, most of these scams are easy to spot. In short: If you’re asked to disclose your credit card information or to pay any sort of fee upfront, run away and don’t look back (except to report it to the FTC or to the FBI’s Internet Crime Compliant Center). But scammers are getting clever. And, as your job search lengthens, you may find yourself falling prey.
These unsavory tactics come in many different forms—too many to count. The following are three of the top scams to watch out for as you continue your job search:
Working from home is a great way to earn a living, especially while searching for a traditional job. Unfortunately, scammers have caught on to the trend and have taken full advantage of many who desire to work from home. Work-at-home scams, according to CareerBuilder, claim almost anyone can perform the job and earn lots of money from the comfort of home and without any advanced skill, knowledge or training. The “jobs” often involve assembling crafts, stuffing envelopes, data entry or even bill processing.
While there are many legitimate work-at-home jobs, the scams require an upfront payment for instructions about the position, required software or materials. Sometimes the payment is called a “subscription fee” or “start-up fee.” This might sound reasonable and, sometimes, it is. But, as CareerBuilder cautions, check the internet and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for the company name, phone number and location first. Be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true, are based overseas, or include red flags like spelling mistakes within your communications.
Check/Payment processing scams
Some fraudulent employers will scam job seekers out of money by overpaying them. How does it work? According to the FBI, the amount of the first pay check is often significantly more than the employee is owed for salary and expenses. The employee is instructed to deposit the check into their own account and then wire the overpayment back to the employer’s bank. You can guess what happens next: The check is found to be fraudulent only AFTER the “change” is sent. The FBI points out a similar scam in which an “affiliate opportunity” is presented to sell high-end electronic items at significantly reduced prices.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers an additional reason avoiding these scams is critical. “Job seekers should be cautious when an application requires processing payments or transferring funds,” ACFE posts, “because doing so for an illegitimate source could lead to serious jail time.”
The BBB points out a particular phishing scam targeting job seekers that, from the onset, can appear very legit. As the BBB describes it:
“You receive an email that seems to come from a human resources professional recruiting you for a position at his/her company. The email seems very professional, with a company logo, signature block and reply email address. According to the message, the HR representative found your resume on LinkedIn and would like you to take a look at the job description. To view this info, just click a link to a Google Doc.”
As you can suspect, the link is fraudulent. You’ll be prompted to log into your Google account, at which point, the criminals will grab your email and password. The first clue to look for in these types of emails is the lack of personal info. The BBB points out recruiters will address you by your name and title, particularly if they found you on LinkedIn.
Another phishing scam targets job seekers a bit further along in their job searches. This one has to do with background checks. The email usually contains wording such as “someone recently viewed your background information” and will offer a link to find out more. Since background checks are a standard part of many pre-employment screenings, you may be tempted to take the bait. But don’t! Hiring managers should inform you directly a background check is being conducted, and will let you know if anything is found that changes their hiring decision.
Stay informed on scams that are making the rounds by following the BBB’s Scam Stopper or any of these other helpful resources listed by CareerBuilder. Have you seen these or other scams lately? Tell us and your fellow job seekers about it here. Let’s stop them together!
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