Job hunting? Here's how to avoid the latest schemes designed to part you from your money instead of helping you earn some.
The scammers are at it again, preying on people looking for legitimate jobs.
They’ve got at least four new schemes to part you from your money under the guise of offering legitimate employment or business opportunities.
“The best protection against job scams is to equip job seekers with information about the latest techniques scammers are using to trap their victims,” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, a subscriber-based online job search service. “Many people believe that job scams are always very obvious and easy to avoid, but unfortunately there are an increasing number of sophisticated job scams.”
A FlexJobs survey of 2,600 job seekers revealed nearly 1 in 5 respondents had been a job-scam victim at least once. There are 60 to 70 scams for every one legitimate work-from-home job position, Sutton Fell says.
The Federal Trade Commission agrees.
“Many work-at-home ads that promise you can earn a great living, even in your spare time, are scams,” the FTC warns.
But scammers target more than work-from-home job seekers. Check out these four latest job scams, and how to avoid them, according to FlexJobs, the FTC, the Better Business Bureau and other sources:
1. Online interview with a “real” company: A scammer poses as a recruiter who claims to be from a firm you know, or one you can find on the Web. Looks legit! After you send in your resume, a supposed hiring manager invites you to an interview, but not in person. Instead, the manager says you need to use instant messages or download a program to answer questions about your qualifications. “You’re hired!” you’re told afterward. Once “hired,” scammers steal money and personal information from you by requesting your Social Security and bank account numbers.
To avoid the scam:
- Contact the real company to ensure that a job posting is legitimate. Instead of using a number provided by the recruiter, search online to find the company’s real website and verify that the company actually has a job opening for the position you’re applying for.
- Search for the job online. If the same post comes up in other cities, it is likely a scam.
- No matter how talented you are, be very skeptical if they say you are hired on the spot.
2. Reshipping scam: You may get an email from a generic sounding HR Department asking you to apply for a shipping manager’s job: “Our Agents receive, check, consolidate and reship different packages and ensure that our company continues to deliver packages to our customers on time and with care.” You would receive at home packages usually containing devices such as laptops or iPhones. After testing the products, you ship them overseas. The items, however, are purchased with stolen credit cards and suddenly you’re a smuggler. You could be prosecuted for robbery and mail fraud, especially since postage labels for reshipping can also be fraudulent.
To avoid the scam:
- Know job titles scammers will use. “Reshipper” has become synonymous with job scams, so beware of that job description, and new ones, such as “merchandising manager” or “package processing assistant.”
- Familiarize yourself with the duties. They might include receiving, processing, and mailing packages to a foreign address using pre-paid postage mailing labels that are provided to you via email.
3. Post office job scam: In online or print ads, scam artists offer to help job seekers find and apply for federal or post office jobs in exchange for a fee. They might even offer to sell you study materials for the postal exams and offer money-back guarantees should you fail to pass. Scam artists would like you to believe that there are hidden postal and federal jobs that only they can access.
To avoid the scam:
- “When it comes to federal and postal jobs, the word to remember is free,” says the FTC. “Information about job openings with the U.S. government or U.S. Postal Service is free and available to everyone. Applying for a federal or postal job also is free.”
- Know where to apply. U.S. Postal Service openings can be found by visiting usps.com/careers or by clicking the careers link at the bottom of the usps.com home page. Don’t be fooled by oft-used, official-sounding names or titles such as the “U.S. Agency for Career Advancement” or the “Postal Employment Service,” neither of which exist, the FTC warns.
4. All that glitters: Oro Marketing, the FTC says, was a telemarketer that targeted Spanish-speaking women with the “opportunity” to sell brand-name products such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren. The packages of goods, costing up to $490 each and arriving COD, were full of unusable junk instead of brand-name goods. When people tried to refuse shipments or return the goods, the company harassed and threatened them. FTC action shut down Oro, and its owner is forever banned from doing business. But other telemarketers may try to rope you in.
To avoid the scam:
- Be skeptical and do some research. Query the street address or phone number in an online search to make sure the company actually exists at the location it claims.
- Resist high-pressure tactics. Don’t let a telemarketing scammer entice you into paying money without giving you time to think it through.
- Don’t play along: Requiring COD or money order payments could be signs of scams. Another red flag is being told you can’t open a box to inspect merchandise before you pay for it.
Here are more ways to avoid job scams:
- Watch where you post your resume online: Not only can scammers determine you are job hunting, but they also can often find your personal contact information. Include only your email address in online resumes.
- Don’t pay to play: Legitimate jobs don’t require application fees. Also, no jobs ask job seekers to receive money, keep a portion and forward the rest. They may require training, computer equipment, or programs, which should be detailed up front so that you are aware of any investments you may need to make. Don’t fall for “work-from-home kits” that promise to show you how to make money from home.
- Don’t give out personal banking info: If a job requires you to click a specific link or asks for detailed personal and financial information, scammers likely are trying to collect sensitive information for malicious reasons. A potential employer won’t need access to your bank account while you are a job candidate.
- You don’t say: Communications riddled with typos and bad grammar are a sign they’re very likely from scammers.
What experience have you had job searching? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.