As much as the Internet has made searching for jobs easier, it also provides an opportunity for ID thieves and scammers to take advantage of eager—and unsuspecting—job seekers. BBB is providing guidance that will help people spot the most common red flags associated with online job-search scams.
Following are seven red flags BBB advises jobs hunters to be on the look out for when using online resources:
Red Flag: Employer e-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors.
Most online fraud is perpetrated by scammers located outside the U.S. Their first language usually isn’t English and this is often evident in their poor grasp of the language which can include poor grammar and the misspelling of common words.
Red Flag: E-mails purporting to be from job posting websites claiming there’s a problem with your account.
After creating a user account on sites like Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, a job hunter might receive an e-mail saying there has been a problem with their account or they need to follow a hyperlink to install new software. Phishing e-mails like this are designed to convince readers to click a link within the message to fix the issue, but actually take them to a website that will install malware or viruses on their computer.
Red Flag: An employer asks for extensive personal information, such as your Social Security or bank account numbers.
Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they’ve gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal information in order to fill out the necessary paperwork suspicions were raised—and rightly so. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.
Red Flag: An employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home.
While there are legitimate businesses that allow employees to work from home, there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of people looking to make money at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and research the company with BBB first.
Red Flag: An employer asks for money upfront.
Aside from paying for a uniform, it is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job. In 2007, the Metropolitan Dallas BBB uncovered a scam where job hunters were told they had to pay for a background check before they could be considered for a cleaning job. After paying for the background check, the job seeker never heard from the company again.
Red Flag: The salary and benefits offered seem too good to be true.
The adage holds true for job offers: If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little experience in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.
Red Flag: The job requires the you to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram.
Many phony jobs require the prospective employee to cash a check sent by the company through the mail and then wire a portion of the money on to another entity. Reasons given for this requirement vary from scam to scam. Whatever the reason though, the check might clear the employee’s bank account but will eventually turn out to be a fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back to the scammers.
For more trustworthy advice on employment scams, and what to do if you become a victim of ID theft or fraud related to a job opportunity, go to bbb.org.