Job scams are on the rise, and it’s important to know how to distinguish them from real job offers.
Job offer scams can come in many forms. They can be unsolicited and through email, or a position you applied for on a job website. Often, the scams offer short working hours, extremely high pay and are remote.
Scams can be generic, starting with the same phrases and not mentioning your name or school. They can also include no job description, or a very generic one. If something sounds too good to be true, it’s likely because it is.
On job scams, the University at Buffalo says that, “Job offer scams entice with unbelievably good pay for very easy work—something that just isn’t that common in the real job market.” It’s important to trust your gut if something isn’t adding up.
According to a 2020 article from the BBB (Better Business Bureau), companies large and small can be impersonated, so it’s also important to verify that the employer is who they say they are.
The first type of scam seems to be the most common: The fake check scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the scammer may offer you a position like dog sitting or being a personal assistant. They ask you to deposit a check, send some of the money to someone else and keep the rest for yourself.
Eventually, the bank will realize that the check is fake and deduct the amount deposited from the account. If there was already money sent to someone from the fake check, the victim is now out of whatever amount was sent.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that the median loss for fake check scams was $1,988 in 2019. It also mentioned that “people in their twenties are more than twice as likely as people over 30 to report losing money to fake check scams.”
The Federal Trade Commission names the reshipping scam as another common one. It may appear as a remote job where the “employee” receives packages, discards the original packaging on the products, repackages the product, and ships them back out. The products are bought with stolen credit cards and sold to unsuspecting customers.
“Employees” never receive pay for reshipping products, and the fake company often disappears when asked about being paid.
Another scam is one where a fee is required to obtain the job. It could be a job advertised as a federal job or a postal position. The Federal Trade Commission says that any jobs requiring a fee to secure the position are a scam. Federal and postal jobs are free to apply to.
To avoid scams, the BBB encourages people seeking employment to always do their research. Researching the company who is interested in hiring you can indicate if they are legitimate or not. Real contact information and a professional-looking website are things to look for. You can also check with the BBB to see if the company is accredited.
Something else to look for is grammatical errors. If you’re seeing a lot of typos and grammar mistakes on the job posting or email sent to you from the employer, it’s probably a scam.
The BBB also advises to never send money to people you don’t know. This can be in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers.
Scams can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/. There, it will be shared with over 2,800 law enforcers.