Unscrupulous actors are taking advantage of the current fluidity in the job market by pretending to be hiring agencies.
The NSO CPU has received a report from a good-faith job seeker. She applied for a nursing position at a local hospital through what she believed to be a legitimate job listing agency when, after having provided sensitive information, she realized that the “agency” was a fraud. The provided number was no longer in service and the “agency” had no relationship to the hospital.
When interacting with a job site, DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!
The following will help you protect yourself:
- Check directly with the potential employer to see that the agency is a verified representative for the job campaign;
- Be suspicious of any foreign posting for a domestic job- many employers will not use an agency especially large sophisticated ones;
- NEVER give sensitive personal information unless there is absolutely no question regarding the bona fide nature of the agency and/or the potential employer and even then see if other means can provide the information other than digitally.
Indeed.com - one of the largest of such job listing agencies - provides the following information regarding job site scams on their website:
17 common job scams
Scammers use a variety of strategies to trick people into sharing personal information. Here are 17 common job scams to avoid:
1. Fake job listings
Fake job listings come in various forms. Though job sites have measures in place to verify legitimate employers, scammers sometimes manage to get their listings posted. Other fake listings appear on social media profiles created expressly to deceive job seekers. The listings normally ask candidates to pay a fee to complete their application or to get started in the role.
An imposter is someone purporting to be someone else. In the context of job scams, they usually pose as an affiliate of an agency, government institution or hiring firm. Imposters often ask candidates for a screening fee in the form of gift cards or a wire transfer.
3. Email offers
You may receive an email from someone claiming to be a recruiter who found your resume on a job board. Some emails come from legitimate recruiters, but others may come from dishonest people trying to deceive you. Often, the dishonest ones ask you for sensitive information, such as identification or bank account numbers.
4. Informational material
Scammers who offer "informational material" often pose as hiring experts who can optimize your candidacy for a position. For a fee, they promise to give you essential information that can help you both secure and prepare for an interview with the company you want. In reality, such information is normally available on the employer's website, their job listing or various free sources and the purported adviser reaching out to you has little of value to offer.
5. Interviews via an online messaging service
In this type of scam, the scammer notifies you that you've been selected as one of the finalists for a position, usually one to which you never applied. When it comes time to arrange an interview, they may reveal that it's an online interview through a specific messaging service, which asks you to input personal information to complete the setup. The scammer can then access the information you've provided.
6. Money laundering
A common money laundering strategy involves the scammer reaching out to you via email or a job listing. They may try to convince you to accept a sum of money and to use your personal bank account to transfer it to another account, allowing you to keep a percentage. Usually, their rationale behind this circuitous transmission is that it would be easier and more efficient to use your account instead of theirs. The scammer is actually trying to acquire your bank account information.
7. Credit reports
In a common credit report scam, the scammer claims that an examination of your credit history is necessary to verify your eligibility for the position. They may say that the job requires someone who's financially responsible. The fake employer might then ask you to pay for a credit report with your credit card, which results in their charging an unauthorized fee for it. Otherwise, they may suggest using a specific service to obtain the credit report, which you end up paying for in addition to other charges.
While real employers do sometimes perform credit checks on employees, very rarely do they ask the candidate to cover the cost. Credible companies typically handle credit checks on their own.
8. Career consulting
Career consulting scams occur when a person posing as a career consultant reaches out to you to praise your resume. They then mention that it could be better with some additional work. They either offer to improve your resume themselves or refer you to an alleged expert in exchange for a fee.
9. Work-from-home jobs
The past few years have seen an increase in candidates seeking work-from-home positions. Scammers are aware of the rising popularity of remote work and target such candidates with work-from-home job scams. Often, the scam involves persuading a job seeker to pay a fee or purchase items.
For example, the position may require you to submit an initial registration fee to start, with the promise of commissions if you can get others to sign on, too. If the job exists, it's likely a type of pyramid scheme or multilevel marketing organization
10. Shipping schemes
Also known as postal fraud, shipping schemes are a subcategory of work-from-home scams. The scammer offers an attractive salary for repackaging and reshipping goods, plus compensation for shipping fees. In most cases, the candidate ends up shipping potentially stolen items and paying for the shipping fees without the promised compensation or salary.
11. Government jobs
If a listing or offer for a supposed government job asks you to pay a fee to apply or acquire information that can improve your candidacy, it's a scam. Government agencies don't require fees for candidates. Also, many government jobs are accessible only through official channels, such as USA Jobs.
12. Equipment purchases
Some fraudulent employers claim to offer a candidate a remote job and then ask the candidate to submit payment for their remote work equipment, like a computer and monitor. Typically, the scammer claims the payment is mandatory before they can officially onboard you, and they promise to reimburse you on your paycheck. Once they receive payment, they keep the money and cease all contact. Some employers require employees to use their own equipment, but it's highly uncommon for a legitimate employer to ask you to submit payment directly to them for it.
13. Envelope stuffing
This scam advertises a remote job filling envelopes for a company, typically with the promise of surprisingly high weekly pay. The scammer requires a one-time payment before you can start, claiming this money covers supplies and processing. When you submit the payment and receive your assignment in the mail, it's usually a paper stating that, instead of stuffing envelopes, your only job is to recruit another person for the scam.
14. Career advancement grants
If you receive an email encouraging you to apply for a "career advancement grant" from the government, proceed with caution. These scams usually claim the recipient is eligible for a grant to pay for higher education or professional development services. The email may include links to applications and state that the government may deposit money directly into your account if your application is approved. Sometimes, the sender claims they're with a specific government agency.
In reality, these fake grants aim to steal personal information or money from you. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government never sends unexpected communications about grant opportunities.
15. High-paying data entry jobs
One of the industries scammers target most commonly is data entry. Scammers often advertise illegitimate data entry jobs, claiming you can earn extremely high wages for little work. These jobs are rarely real, and after offering you a position, the fraudulent employer may ask you to pay for training or share your bank account information.
If you see a data entry job offering a wage that seems much higher than the market average, investigate the company. Try to verify its legitimacy and research its reputation before you apply or respond to communications.
16. Mystery shopper jobs
It's also common for scammers to advertise mystery shopping jobs on job boards and public forums. These postings may claim you can work a flexible schedule and earn a high salary by shopping online or in person and evaluating retailers' customer service and offerings. If you're seeking a mystery shopper position, be wary of companies that ask you to submit any payment upfront. They're rarely credible and typically collect payment without any intention of assigning you work.
17. Resale gigs
For this scam, the scammers target candidates seeking supplemental income from a side hustle. They may contact you by phone or email informing you of an opportunity to buy luxury goods, such as clothes, appliances, tech or accessories, at a discount. They then resell those items for profit. They help you purchase inventory, but they never send you the items.
Job scam warning signs
Here are some warning signs that might help you determine whether your job offer is potentially a scam:
A scam caller tends to call persistently, trying to pressure you into accepting what they're offering. Often, they claim you may lose the opportunity to apply for a job if you don't immediately respond or agree to the terms.
Most legitimate companies employ professionals to handle their social media and email accounts. Wanting to make a good impression on their client, they tend to send well-written emails that provide all of the information a candidate may require. In contrast, scam emails often contain obvious errors and vague contact details.
Fake accounts and websites
Since almost anyone can open and operate a social media account or website, scammers commonly create online platforms for made-up employers or fake channels for real companies. An obvious warning sign concerning these accounts is that they're scant on information or only newly created.
Scammers trying to access your information often request your personal details upfront. They might ask for documentation such as proof of residence or financial statements with the promise of a direct connection to job opportunities.
Legitimate companies typically don't require such documentation until the interview or onboarding phase. They also don't ask for upfront payments in exchange for employment. Even if a third party takes part in the job search, the employer is typically responsible for the associated expenses.
Lucrative job offers
You may receive a tempting offer for a job that comes with a high salary but vague details. The scammer is hoping to lure you with the promise of riches while the job likely doesn't exist. If you apply, you may find the "employer" asking you to pay fees or reveal sensitive details.
When a legitimate employer wants to set up an online interview, they're likely to use a well-known, well-reputed app. If they ask you to install an unfamiliar piece of software, particularly one that's proprietary, this is a sign that the job is a scam.
5 tips to protect yourself from job scams
Consider these five tips to help you avoid job scams:
1. Do your research
Before applying for a position, conduct thorough research on the company to establish its existence and verify identifying details. Use a search engine to find the employer's official website and social media pages, which can provide useful information that you can compare against what you find in job listings or emails. You might find, for example, the email handle of the employer's human resources department. If you received a recruitment email from a different handle, you can tell that the sender is a scammer.
2. Verify website security
You can avoid illegitimate jobs by verifying websites and their security measures. Make sure the web address includes "https://" at the beginning, not "http://." This verifies that the site is both authentic and secure. You can also determine how long the site has been active and who owns it by inputting its URL into a domain age and website registry tool.
3. Trust your instincts
If you remain suspicious of a job or employer even after your research, trust yourself. If you feel uncertain, uncomfortable or jeopardized by an opportunity, avoiding it is the best course of action. Even if you can confirm the company is real, your feelings may be a sign that your values and interests differ from the employer's.
4. Protect your personal information
Keep your bank account information, credit card number, social security number and all other sensitive information safe from strangers online, even if they ask for it. Legitimate employers don't ask for payment card information at all, and they don't request banking or federal identifying information until they've hired you. If a recruiter or employer asks for these details early on, consider terminating your communication with them.
5. Look for complaints
Job sites often have review sections where employees and candidates share the experiences they had with an employer. Search for a potential employer on these sites and see what others have said. Their remarks can reveal whether the employer is legitimate and thus guide your decision to move forward. You can also check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn if the company has negative reviews or claims of fraud.
BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR DATA!
The Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over these sites and reporting to it may create a helpful database.
If you've been subjected to a scam attempt like this, please contact the Norfolk Sheriff's Office's Consumer Protection Unit to file a report.