Job search scams have been around for a long time. However, as technology has evolved and new challenges appear for job seekers, scammers have developed new tactics. According to the Better Business Bureau, the COVD-19 pandemic has caused an increase in work-from-home job scams.
In a recent article, job search site FlexJobs identified fourteen common job search scams and offered advice on avoiding them. Read on for more information on how to identify job scams and protect yourself while searching for a job.
Common Job Search Scams
When searching for a job, be on the look out for the common scams listed below.
Data Entry Scams
Legitimate data entry jobs do exist, but they don’t promise high wages combined with low skill requirements. In order to determine whether or not a data entry job listing is a scam, look for red flags such as higher than average pay, vague job duties, no company information and requests for upfront training or processing payment from applicants.
Pyramid schemes are illegal, but many listings online involve these scams. They involve recruiting new people to “invest” in the scheme with no actual product to sell. If you see a listing that’s vague on details while promising unlimited income, it’s probably a pyramid scheme.
Alternatively, multi-level marketing companies do sell products but most members of MLM’s lose money. Be wary of any company that wants you to invest in products or inventory upfront or places heavy focus on recruiting new members rather than actually selling product.
Envelope stuffing scams have been around since the Great Depression. Generally, people are expected to pay a fee to the scammer who then sends the victim information about how to place ads about stuffing envelopes to other would-be victims. If others sign up, the victim repeats the process of the original scammer. Envelope stuffing works much like a pyramid scheme in that there is no product and most people lose money.
Although it may seem obvious that wiring money for a potential employer is a bad idea, many victims still fall for this scam. Thieves may pose as company executives asking employees to fraudulently move money from one account to another. If a listing asks you to accept payments or move money, it’s definitely a scam.
As FlexJobs points out, online re-shipping is particularly serious because victims engage in criminal activity. Re-shipping or postal forwarding jobs involve repacking and sending stolen goods to people outside the US. Victims rarely receive payment or re-imbursement for shipping costs.
Rebate processing job scams often require upfront, non-refundable payment for training materials. Instead of processing rebates, you will create ads for products and post them online. When someone buys the product, a portion is sent back to the buyer as a rebate and the processor receives a small commission from the sale. Victims usually end up spending more on training materials and buying ads than they make in commission (if any is actually paid) from product sales.
Phishing scams occur when you receive an email, text or phone call from a seemingly legitimate company. The “representative” will ask for personal information, such as your bank account information or social security number. Text or emails contain malicious links. If you receive communications from a company, reach out via their website and never give your personal information out no matter how legitimate a call, email or text seems.
How to Protect Yourself from Job Search Scams
Look for the following warning signs to spot a job scam:
- Job scam listings will often include phrases such as “unlimited earning potential” and “be your own boss”. If you see these phrases it’s likely a scam.
- Scammers may ask you to pay upfront for training materials, processing fees or inventory. A legitimate employer will never ask you to send money or buy product upfront.
- Vague job duties and company information are huge red flags. A legitimate job post will be detailed about the job requirements and skills required. It will also include information about the hiring company such as the address and website.
- If a listing promises an unrealistically high earning potential or wages it’s probably too good to be true.
- Inconsistencies in domain, email and other communications are also red flags. Most employers will use company provided emails rather than Gmail or other popular providers.
- Grammatical and spelling errors in job listings and email communications are signs of job scams. A reputable company will ensure that any job listings and emails are checked for errors before being posted or sent.
- If a listing or potential employer asks for personal information (social security number, bank account information, etc.) do not provide it. Also do not click on links within emails. You will only need to give financial information once you’ve been hired by a verified company and the person asking for the information (usually in HR or accounting) needs it in order to pay you.
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