The Internet is a wonderful place full of amazing information and amusement and interesting people. Unfortunately, as with most other human enterprises, you will also find people looking to make a quick buck, many of them not concerned with how they make that money or who they might hurt in the process.
A large portion of the quick-buck brigade recognized in the recession a golden opportunity – a great new pool of potential victims: desperate job seekers.
Why job search scams?
- To collect private information from you, like your email address and resume to sell to marketers and advertisers who will use it to contact you to make a sale (or try).
- To collect enough private information from you (e.g. resume plus Social Security Number) for identity theft.
- To collect credit card information from you so they can charge “purchases” or money transfers to your credit card.
- To collect bank account information from you so they can tap into your bank account and make a few withdrawals.
- To get your willing (but unknowing) participation in a crime they perpetrate against someone else.
The Main Scam: Fake Jobs
The opportunity may look “real” with apparently genuine requirements and responsibilities specified, or it may look so simple that anybody with a pulse could do it.
The employer’s name could be genuine, even well-known, but borrowed for the occasion without the employer’s knowledge or approval (corporate identity theft). Often, the employer is fictional, sometimes with an elaborate but fake Website for added credibility.
Fake job examples:
- Accept shipments of items from “suppliers” to be repackaged and reshipped to “customers” from the comfort of your home. (Seriously?)Except that the suppliers are thieves and the material you receive is stolen property. If you repackage and ship it for your “employer,” you are participating in the theft.
- Accept payments for international company that needs help transferring money from one country to another. (Seriously?)Deduct your 10% commission from the check they send you, and send them the balance via wire transfer. Guess what: after you send them their 90%, the original check to you turns bad after, and you are considerably poorer.
- Pay only $[xxx] for a starter kit, and run your own business from the comfort of your home, begin making thousands of dollars a week in a just few days! (Seriously?)
- The job looks real, or, at least, possible. The pay is good (or very good), and the requirements are easy (or reasonable). But first…Just complete their form with your Social Security Number (for the IRS and to check your credit rating), your bank account number (to be paid via bank transfer), your credit card number for purchases on behalf of the company (to be reimbursed by them later), and/or your mother’s maiden name (to check your credit rating).(Seriously?)
Where are the scams found?
- Well-known job boards
Job postings are screened by the job boards and credit card data is collected to pay for the postings. But the scammers can be very clever and determined, equipped with stolen credit cards for payment.For the job boards, ti takes time and energy to separate the fake jobs from the real jobs. Sometimes the scams are very clever, sometimes the screening isn’t done as well as it should be, and sometimes the job posting stays “live” even when the credit card goes bad. It doesn’t need to be live for very long in this job market to attract some potential victims.
- Not-so-well-known job boards
Even if truly associated with a well-known personality, business, or non-profit organization. They can be fooled, too, and may not have sufficient resources to devote to the screening process.
- Fake job boards
They promise you lots of great, sometimes “exclusive,” job postings, but FIRST you must register. Or you can see the jobs, but you can’t apply for them without registering.
- Your email in-box
Spam claiming to be that famous job board, the employer you’ve always wanted to work for, or someone claiming to be a recruiter.
So, how do you protect yourself?
Make it a habit to verify before you trust!
- Is it too good to be true? Would a legitimate employer pay you hundreds of dollars a day doing something a 10 year old could do? Seriously!
- Why would Big Company’s recruiters use an email address like “BigCompanyJobs @gmail.com” rather than RecruiterName@BigCompany.com? Seriously!
- A legitimate company would have and provide real, verifiable contact information like a street address, city, state, and Zip/Postal code plus a phone number. Seriously!
- Look for inconsistencies that indicate a lack of familiarity with English – e.g. “seattle, WA” vs. “Seattle, WA” or “the world have gone to the extend on make money with every means you can get you hand on.” Seriously!
Put Google/Bing/Yahoo to work for you!
- Search on the employer name, look for concrete contact information (street address and phone number).
- Verify the employer name and the contact information via Superpages.com or other trustworthy third party.
If they seem to have a domain registered (e.g. “[them].com”), check the domain registration with a Who is information site like DomainTools.com, and do NOT trust IF:
- The domain is a few days to a couple of months old – look for the original registration date.
- The domain registration is “private” which means there is NO employer contact information for you to check, just the name and contact information of the company providing the private registration.
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list of scams, unfortunately, so, as they say on Star Trek, “keep your shields up.”