POSTED: Monday, October 4, 2010 - 3:09pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 4, 2010 - 8:47pm
As the unemployment rate hovers higher, the Better Business Bureau warns that scammers are taking advantage by preying on the unemployed. Identifying the common red flags of a scam is one way for job hunters to protect themselves and their wallets.
“The sluggish employment rate means that a lot of people are desperate for work, which creates a great opportunity for scammers,” said Annabelle Estrada, Communications Director of the El Paso BBB. “Scammers set their sights on the unemployed because these people are vulnerable and looking for any decent work opportunities.”
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, there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students and injured or handicapped people looking to make money conveniently at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and always research the company with their BBB first at bbb.org.
Red Flag: The employer asks for money upfront
Job hunters should never have to pay money up front to be considered for a job. If a potential employer asks for the job hunter to pay the company to cover the costs of testing, training or background checks, it should be considered a red flag. Always research the job thoroughly before opening up your wallet.
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: Job placement companies that make big promises
Job placement companies often do not charge the job hunters for help finding a job, but are instead paid by companies that need help filling positions. Some job placement companies, however, have been taking money from job hunters and not fulfilling their promises of quick employment. Job hunters reported one job placement firm that claimed to offer work on Craigslist, but later was found to only be a resume writing service. The company charged about $75 for the resume service, but failed to find job hunters work. Always research a job placement company first with BBB before signing any contracts or paying any money. Be extremely cautious about terms like “no experience required,” or “guaranteed work,” and ask for the contract upfront to see what the placement terms are.
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 Number or bank account numbers
Identity thieves employ many different methods for getting personal financial information from job hunters. Spam e-mail might offer a great opportunity and direct the job hunter to a website that is designed to install malware on his or her computer or solicit bank account or Social Insurance Numbers. In other cases, the job hunter might even be asked to submit a resume, find out they’ve been hired and then immediately be asked for bank account information or Social Insurance Numbers.
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.