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5 ways to protect yourself from a job scam

Millions of Americans fall victim to job scams each year. Here are verified ways to keep you and your money safe when looking for a new job.

In 2021, a record number of Americans voluntarily quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of those who resigned cited low pay, lack of advancement, and feeling disrespected at work as the top reasons behind why they decided to leave their jobs and seek out new employment, a Pew Research Center survey found

As “The Great Resignation” continues in 2022, job scams are on the rise. In June, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consumer alert warning job seekers about phony job postings. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from falling victim to a scam when looking for a new job. 

THE SOURCES

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WHAT WE FOUND

Scammers typically advertise jobs in some of the same ways legitimate employers do — they may create fake job listings in online ads, on job sites, like Indeed or LinkedIn, on college employment websites, through email, and even on social media, according to the FTC, FBI, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). But, despite offering job seekers the promise of new employment, the FTC says all these scammers really want is money and people’s personal information. 

Work-from-home job scams, such as reshipping or reselling merchandise scams, and nanny, caregiver, or virtual assistant job scams are examples of some of the most common employment scams listed on the FTC’s website. Other potential scams include mystery shopper scams, job placement service scams, and government and postal jobs scams. 

“Many people would like to work from home and generate income. Scammers know this, so they place ads, often online, claiming that they have jobs where you can make thousands of dollars a month working from home with little time and effort,” the FTC writes.

“But instead of making money, you end up paying for starter kits, ‘training,’ or certifications that are useless. If someone offers you a job and they claim that you can make a lot of money in a short period of time and with little work, that’s a scam.” 

Job scam warning signs

When looking for a new job, there are several red flags to look out for. These include payment requirements in order to get a job, on-the-spot interviews without any prior contact from the company, and lack of preparation by a hiring manager, FINRA writes on its website. Other warning signs include the following: 

  • Requests for personal information, such as your social security number, credit card information, or bank account number. 
  • Odd or poorly written text, such as typos or unusual wording, in the job listing or in other forms of communication. 
  • Pressure to commit to a job quickly or make equipment purchases. 
  • Language that suggests a job is “guaranteed” or “waiting for you,” or that personal funds are required for purchases.
  • Interviews arranged for “previously undisclosed" jobs.

“You should not have to pay an employer or an employment firm to get a job. Nor should you be asked to provide payment for any materials unless you have been hired and clearly agree to pay for something associated with the job, such as supplies or equipment,” FINRA said. 

How to protect yourself from a job scam

The FTC, FBI and FINRA all share tips on how to protect yourself from falling victim to a job scam. These include the following:  

  • Don't pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer, according to the FTC. 
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for an online interview. If you are not certain you applied for the job, don’t engage in a session.
  • Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who is interested in hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” By doing so, you might find out they’ve scammed other people in the past. 
  • Call the company’s human resources department. Verify that the company has really scheduled an interview on the date for which you received a request. You should also make sure the person leading the interview or engaging in follow-up conversations is a current company employee or has been hired to represent the company.
  • Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send part of the money or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam, and when the check bounces, the bank will want you to repay the amount of the fake check, the FTC says.

FINRA says you should immediately hang up on an interviewer if they ask you to provide personal or financial information, or to pay a fee that you did not expect. You should also avoid responding to similar written requests about payment. 

“If anything about the way the job interview or hiring process seems suspicious, contact the organization directly on your own to confirm the legitimacy of the position before taking any further action,” FINRA said. 

How to report a job scam

If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a job scam, you can file a report with the FTC, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, your state attorney general, or the local consumer protection agency in your area.

    

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