BBB Tip: Employment Scams

  
     
Don't let your stress over looking for a new job make you vulnerable to scams. Be wary of on-the-spot offers or any payment required for an opportunity or training.

help wanted sign over keyboardIf you are looking for employment, beware of scam job postings, fake recruiter emails, and work-at-home schemes. These cons often use real company names and can be very convincing. It may look as though you are starting a great new career, but you are really giving personal information or money to scammers.

How the Scams Work:

You spot a Help Wanted ad online or receive an email from a “recruiter” asking you to apply for a position. The ad likely uses the name of a real business or government agency. Companies small and large – even BBB – have been impersonated. You apply and get a quick response from the “hiring manager,” often with an offer without having an interview.

After you are “hired,” the company may charge you upfront for “training.” You may need to provide your personal and banking information to run a credit check or set up direct deposit. You may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Or, you may need to buy expensive equipment and supplies to work at home.

How to Spot This Scam: 

  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. Positions that don't require special training or licensing appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads. If the job posting is for a well-known brand, check the real company's job page to see if the position is posted there. Look online; if the job comes up in other cities with the exact same post, it’s likely a scam. 

  • Different procedures should raise your suspicion. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring. Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers. And be cautious sharing personal information or any kind of pre-payment. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories. 

  • Government agencies post all jobs publically and freely. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments and the U.S. Postal Service/Canada Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

  • Get all details and contracts in writing. A legitimate recruiter will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer), and what happens if you do not find a job.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

Last Reviewed: March 24, 2017