Better Business Bureau is warning summer job-seekers to be aware of various employment scams that aim to obtain personal information for the purpose of committing identity theft, or dupe applicants into paying to apply for a non-existent job.
Many summer jobs already have been filled. Scammers know that and target students and others looking for seasonal employment with a variety of ruses, including phony job postings and work-at-home schemes.
Fake employers may use the names of well-established national or local businesses in a practice known as corporate identity theft, or as it is also known, “name hijacking.” The criminals create authentic-looking websites and may conduct extended interviews by telephone or SMS (texting), after which they “hire” you. They rarely – if ever – ask about your experience, and offer what appears to be an attractive hourly salary. But there is always a catch:
Upfront payment – Bogus employers may ask for money, supposedly to pay for drug testing, background checks, your credit report, uniforms or training materials. If you send the money by wire transfer, you lose it. If you pay by credit card, you leave yourself open to unauthorized charges.
Personal information is required – Upon being offered the job, you are required to provide your date of birth, Social Security and bank account numbers as part of the hiring process. The fake employer will do this without meeting face to face or providing a detailed job description.
Use of your bank accounts – Some scammers will require that you transfer money between accounts. This constitutes money laundering and is illegal.
Forwarding illegal or non-existent goods – Some victims of phony job offers are asked to receive and reship merchandise from their home addresses. Unfortunately, the merchandise may be stolen or the package may contain contraband.
Overpayment scam – They will send you a check as a hiring incentive or to cover expenses, ask that you deposit it and send back a portion by wire transfer. Though the check looks legitimate, it will bounce and you will lose the money you wired and be charged bank fees for the bad check.
If you understand how the many employment schemes work, you can protect yourself from becoming the victim of fraud or identity theft:
Job description mismatch – A bogus job posting might offer an entry-level position and promise an opportunity for advancement, for example, in public relations or marketing. The position may turn out to be door-to-door sales. Many employment scams involve entertainment or sports marketing or sales. While there are obviously many jobs in these fields, employment scams tend to focus on these areas.
Trial employment – A company offers a trial period or internship that supposedly lasts several weeks, however, it is dependent upon first filling-out an online form that asks for personal information.
Lack of interest but big promises – An employer will meet face to face with you for a formal interview. Be wary if the interview is unusually short and the interviewer is uninterested in your experience or background, but promises a high salary with no related experience or skills.
Don’t ignore your gut instincts. Legitimate employers will post contact information and a proper job description, and never ask for any personal information unless they make a firm offer to hire you. Also, if the job posting is short on details, ask for specifics before investing time in pursuing the position.
Criminals who solicit people for non-existent jobs are hoping that desperation will drive employment seekers to let their guard down.