Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Better Business Bureau warns beware work at home scams in bad economy

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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 a job.

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 common words.

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.

 

Posted 9/2/2010

 

 

 

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