Keep Your Eyes Open to Avoid Risky Job Scams
Keep Your Eyes Open to Avoid Risky Job Scams
Be cautious, job seekers. You could be looking for work in all the wrong places. Job scams have increased since the pandemic started in early 2020. In addition to fake listings, dangerous corporate impersonations have jumped, creating a new layer of challenge for applicants.
Work-from-home scams have been around a long time, promising excellent wages for little effort--such as envelope stuffing for $20 an hour. Sounds too good to be true, right? These cons still exist to tempt the gullible, but more sophisticated scams have evolved, including fake listings under the names of legit companies. If you don't know how to spot these scams, it could cost you hard-earned money or drop malware into your Inbox.
A $2 Billion Headache
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns job seekers, "Scammers will often use emails, social media or online job boards to reach targets. They are also known to use actual company names, addresses and human resource contacts found on the internet. (Go) directly to the company website and check their career page directly."
Employment scams ranked #1 scam risk in 2018, and 2019 in BBB reports. Victims lost an average of $1500. These statistics prompted the BBB to launch a 2020 scams report focused entirely on job cons. The standards agency estimates that $2 billion is lost to these heists annually. And there's no way to put a price on emotional damages or time lost.
The new report revealed that "seventy percent of (customers) who engaged with employment scams received an official offer letter, 51 percent submitted a resume, 48 percent participated in a phone interview, and 32 percent performed work for which they were not paid."
In addition, 53% of the complaints received came from unemployed job seekers. That's a lot of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) circulating. Don't surrender yours to imposters.
Do you care about the length of commute, options like variable hours or bring your dog to work days.? Attracted to companies that embrace the LGBTQ+ community? Maybe disability access tops your list. Unique conditions like these end up in very convincing, targeted scams. Nanny and caretaker positions may be fraudulent. Virtual assistant positions and mystery shopper jobs are also in the crosshairs as frequent fake offerings along with re-packing and re-shipping goods. Extra scrutiny is required.
What Scammers Want
What's in it for the scammers? They want money from you—to take an application, perhaps, or to expedite your resume's consideration. So don't bite that hook. Whenever advance payment gets mentioned, it's a scam.
Crooks covet your info to use for identity theft and other fraud, also. Watch for these red flags: • You are offered the job without an interview. • The employer wants to send you a check to cover relocation costs but asks that you send back a check for the overpayment. • You're required to pay for training before work starts. • Premature requests for a background check will gather lots of sensitive info. • Early requests for your bank account data—allegedly for direct deposit
Impersonations Work Like a Charm
In early 2021, an environmental engineering firm learned about a phony job scam and impersonation tied to its name. Thieves posted an excellent job opening on LinkedIn and directed interested parties to contact "the firm" via a Gmail address. An estimated 100 individuals did so.
The rip-off prompted Geosyntec, the legitimate business, to post a bold warning on its website:
"We never ask for your social security number or a conduct background check via email during our recruitment process. Please verify any email you receive from Geosyntec is from an "[email protected]" email address or from our applicant tracking system ([email protected]). If you see a Geosyntec job posted on a third-party site, such as LinkedIn or Indeed.com, please verify the posting on https://geosyntec.ourcareerpages.com before applying."
That's great advice for any job seeker. The rate of legit business impersonations has skyrocketed, so do your research pre-application. Hackers can recreate the look of a company's home page, logo, and other corporate features to craft emails that look like the real deal. But they aren't.
Then there's the Colorado man who was ecstatic about a customer care supervisor's job offer in El Paso, Texas. The offer raised no red flags since the unemployed man had applied for a job at the firm--customer service firm Teleperformance. Very rapidly and with little interviewing, he was offered a high salary along with relocation funds. But something didn't ring true.
It took five minutes of research to discover that Teleperformance, too, was the victim of fake job listings. A web search determined that the quoted salaries in the scam were nearly double genuine Teleperformance offerings. Moreover, the crooks corresponded via a Gmail address, not the company's address.
"Please take extra caution while examining such an email address, as the perpetrators may misspell an official Teleperformance email address and use a slightly modified version of an official Teleperformance email address," the conglomerate warned.
In addition to LinkedIn, other job platforms like Indeed, Facebook and Ziprecruiter have discovered numerous sham job offerings on their sites. Wrongdoers select targets based on the interests in their profile, connections they have, who they follow on social media and areas of interest on a resume. Often, the information con artists employ is actually public data scraped from job boards and other listings then consolidated into a master list.
Once upon a time, most scams could be spotted by incorrect use of English words, punctuation or grammar. Most swindles use better English today but check the vocabulary first.
Here's a recent email example that offers lots multiple clues of fraud. It appears here with IDShield corrections in red:
"Our Company(is) getting back (to you) concerning (your) application on a Careers jobboard for (the) vacancy of Director of Procurement. We got many applications for this position and the screening process is still runing. The search committee is reviewing your documentation (never provided) and we are more than glad to say that you have been selected for an interview."
The recipient of this email had zero experience in procurement, but the promised salary was $87,400 to $143,200 per year, a flexible schedule and a slew of attractive benefits. Scam!
If only all frauds were this easy to detect. When you uncover a dodgy ad during your job hunt, share the news. Report any job scams you discover to the Federal Trade Commission. If you've fallen for a bogus job scam, there's also advice on how to recover.
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage, and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.