As the unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent and more unemployed
workers become desperate for jobs, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns
that scammers are taking advantage of the opportunity by preying on the
unemployed. Identifying the common red flags of a scam is one way for job
hunters to protect themselves and their wallet.
“The dismal employment rate means that a lot of people are desperate for
work and may be grasping for any job which creates a great opportunity for
scammers,” said Michael Coil, president and CEO of the BBB of Northern
Indiana. “Not thoroughly researching a job opportunity can make a bad
situation even worse and a victim can lose hundreds or even thousands of
dollars to any number of job-related scams.”
BBB recommends looking out for the following seven red flags when searching
for a job:
Red Flag: The employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving
home. While many legitimate businesses allow employees to work from
home, many scammers try to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home
moms, students, and injured or handicapped people looking to make money
conveniently at home. Beware of work-at-home offers and research the company
thoroughly with BBB at www.bbb.org
Red Flag: The employer asks for money upfront. It is rarely advisable for an
applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job.
BBB often hears from job hunters who paid a phony employer for supposedly
required background checks or training for jobs that didn't exist. Also be
wary of job placement companies that ask for large upfront fees to find you
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 work and no experience necessary
in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.
Red Flag: Employer e-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors.
Online fraud is often 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
Red Flag: The employer requires you to check your credit report. After
posting their resumes online or responding to online job listings, many job
hunters received what they thought was good news: an e-mail from an
interested employer. In order to be considered for the job, the applicant
has to check his or her credit report through a recommended website. The
truth is, the e-mail is just an attempt to get the job hunter to divulge
sensitive financial information or sign up for credit monitoring services.
Red Flag: The employer is quick to ask for personal information such as
Social Security or bank account numbers. Some job seekers have been
surprised to learn they've gotten a job without an 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, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security
or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail and only after they've
confirmed the job is legitimate.
Red Flag: The job requires you to wire money through Western Union or
MoneyGram or receive and forward suspicious goods. Many phony jobs
require the 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. BBB also warns against receiving and mailing suspicious goods—such
as electronics or luxury items—overseas.