You’ve probably seen an online job scam post or two without realizing it. What is a job scam? The point of it is to steal your personal information and/or money. Scammers pretend to be companies or hiring managers by enticing applicants with fake job posts. While you think you’re just applying for a job or working one, the scammer is stealing your information (to drain your bank account, use your credit card, or steal your identity) or using you as part of their criminal enterprise. If a scammer hurts your finances, you can end up in debt. Avoid a job scam with these two tips.
Know The Common Job Scams
- Remote data-entry job scams
WFH data-entry jobs that don’t require much experience are appealing to many. But not all of them are legitimate. Again, the goal of a fake job posting is to gain your personal information. The posting might reel unsuspecting victims in with an unusually high pay rate, and the company might ask the victim to pay for training, send personal information, or cash a check. Which brings us to our next point.
- Fake check scam
If your “boss” asks you to cash a check for them (usually under the ruse of “buying office supplies,” or “to get money that you need to send to this other person”) hold your horses. Fake check scams commonly occur in scam mystery shopper, admin, or assistant jobs. The bank eventually realizes the check is fake, and you’ll be on the hook for paying back the money. Since you likely wouldn’t have the large amount of money to pay back, you might end up needing a debt management program. On top of that, you could also be charged with check fraud.
- Re-Shipping Scams
This “job” (sometimes titled “warehouse associate” or “package handler”) sounds easy enough – your “boss” mails a package to your home, then you take the product out, repackage it and send it to the final location. Unbeknownst to you, you’ve just become a money mule, according to the FBI Washington Field Office. Or, you could be reshipping goods that your “boss” (the criminal) bought with stolen credit cards.
This is when scammers impersonate real companies and brands. Unfortunately, scammers can easily impersonate actual employees, to further bolster the image of credibility for victims like you. With that said, if an interview is only done through text chat or phone (where you don’t actually see the person’s face), that should raise suspicion. You should also go to the company’s official website to see if the job posting is there, too – not just on a random job board.
Look Out for Job Scam Signs
- Poor grammar
Most scams are from outside of the U.S., so a scammer’s written English isn’t often professional. Typos and punctuation errors wouldn’t fly for a legit job posting from a reputable company. Noticing the first bad impression can help you avoid a job scam. That being said, an error-free job post could still be a scam. That’s why it’s important to look out for other signs, too.
- Having to pay for supplies or equipment
Your “boss” might say that you’ll be reimbursed – but once the “company” gets your money, they’ll stop communicating with you, and you’ll never get paid back. Other things a scammer might ask you to pay for include application/enrollment fees, training fees, and employment screening fees.
- Having to give personal information too early
Legitimate companies only need your banking information, social security number or credit card number after you’ve been hired, and only through a tax form. Anyone who asks for this information before that is likely a scammer who’s just trying to steal your identity or money.
- Vague job descriptions
A job description usually lists specific requirements (i.e. skills, experience, and education). Very generic requirements (i.e. being an 18 year old U.S. citizen) aren’t a good sign. Additionally, if a job post glosses over duties and heavily emphasizes the pay, research the company before getting tempted. A legit company’s site should have a history and mission statement, contact information with a physical address, case studies and client testimonials, and news stories and press releases. Look the company up on other platforms too, such as the Better Business Bureau and Glassdoor.
One final note – if you’re interviewing with someone, don’t hesitate to ask questions – a legitimate company should be happy to answer them. Getting more information handing over your personal information can help save yourself from getting scammed. Take the time to avoid a job scam with these two tips, and you’ll find the right opportunity for you. Good luck!
If you’re struggling with debt, please contact ACCC for credit counseling at 800-769-3571.