It’s job-hunting time for many, and that also means it’s time for employment scams.
In their quest for reeling in victims, crooks rely on their old favorite, Craigslist. But they also rely on popular employment sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and ZipRecruiter.
Those looking for jobs through online means would be wise to take precautions. The Better Business Bureau warns that there may be a very good reason that job you’re applying for sounds a little too good to be true: It’s a fake designed to steal your money or your private information, or both.
Deciphering scam employment ads
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The ads promise everything to job seekers.
“Work from home!” they may claim. Sometimes they’ll promise you “thousands every month!” They can make their ads and their emails look legitimate by copying and pasting real businesses’ logos on them.
Here are some tips for anyone relying on Craigslist ads as they seek employment:
▪ Watch out for commonly used phrases designed to appeal instantly. These could include “Immediate start,” “No experience necessary” and “Teleworking OK.”
▪ Generic sounding job titles can also indicate a scam. Among them are “customer service representative” and “administrative assistant.” Vague titles like these and assurances that “no special training is needed” are commonly used hooks for grabbing your attention.
▪ Do an Internet search using the exact wording that the ad contains. This is a good way to find out whether the ad is used across the country. If so, it’s probably a scam.
▪ Double check on the ad by visiting the company’s website, looking for employment opportunities there, and seeing whether the job is advertised on that site.
Don’t use the web address contained within the ad. Instead search for the company by name and go to that address. Fake websites are easy to make and they can look legitimate.
▪ Never give out personal information without getting assurance that the party to whom you’re giving it is really who they say they are.
▪ Never pay money up front in order to get a job. This includes fees for “training.”
▪ Don’t give out your personal information until you are absolutely sure they are legitimate. Scammers will commonly ask for information so they can conduct a “credit check,” or so they can set up “direct deposit” for you.
▪ Get details about the job in writing. If they refuse, they are scammers.
▪ Verify the company’s physical address. As said earlier, websites can be faked. A cellphone number means nothing in terms of legitimacy.
▪ No business can afford to pay big money for simple tasks. Give it the smell test: If it smells fishy, resist the offer and look elsewhere because it’s almost certainly a scam.
Advance payment scams
A favorite technique is to send the supposed new hire a check, often for a few thousand dollars and through overnight delivery. It will look legitimate.
You are instructed to deposit it in your account and send some money back to the “company.” If you do so, you will never hear back from them, the check will bounce and you will be responsible to the bank for the full amount.
Scammers send genuine-looking letters with company logos to fool you. Sometimes bad grammar or spelling mistakes give them away, but not always.
Occasionally a bank employee may spot the fake check in time to save you, but there is no guarantee this will happen. These advance payments are always scams.
Does that job offer seem too good to be true? It probably is.
Denise Groene is the director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Contact the BBB at 800-856-2417 or go to bbbinc.org.