Avoiding the Job Scam

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Financial experts and the Federal Reserve say the end is near when it comes to the recession. But millions of people are still looking for work and your job search might be doing you more harm than good.

There are currently 13 states with a double digit unemployment rate. And as these numbers get higher the threat of scams against job seekers also rises. The Better Business Bureau says with so many people out of work scammers have a bigger field of suckers to select from and as a person's financial situtation worsens the bigger a target they become.

Charles Mattingly is President of the Better Business Bureau, serving parts of Indiana and Kentucky. He says the worst kind of scammers are those who take advantage of another person's misfortune to line their own pockets and that's exactly what we're facing now. So to help prepare your defense the BBB has come up with the three biggest scams facing the unemployed and some advice on how to handle each situation. To find out what they are keep reading, it's tough enough out there without getting ripped off by scam artists not looking for an honest job.

Job Scams From the Better Business Bureau

1. Job offers that require an upfront fee
Earlier this year, job ads cropped up in Florida from a company claiming it was looking to hire 2,500 employees for their new headquarters. Applicants had to submit $24 to pay for a background check. Law enforcement later found out that the money only went to the pockets of the company’s owner. Sadly, similar schemes crop up across the country every year. While the amount of money lost by any one victim may be small, the total amount taken in by the schemer can be significant.

BBB advice: 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.

2. Job placement assistance that makes big promises but can’t deliver
Job placement companies, or headhunter firms, often do not charge the job seekers 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.

The BBB of Greater Maryland recently warned job hunters about one such placement firm that was advertising on Craigslist. The company charged as much as $195 and guaranteed it could find job hunters work. Unfortunately, job hunters didn’t receive call backs or refunds and had no real way to contact the company.

BBB Advice: Always research a job placement company first with BBB before signing any contracts or paying any money. Be extremely cautious about paying up front fees and know the deal on how to get a refund.

3. Phishing attempts by ID thieves pretending to be real businesses
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 Web site that is designed to install malware on his or her computer or solicit bank account or Social Security 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 or Social Security numbers.

BBB Advice: Be extremely cautious when responding to unsolicited e-mails from supposed employers—even if the company name is well-known—and do not click on any links in the e-mail until having vetted the company fully and confirming that the e-mail came from a legitimate source. Legitimate employers will need Social Security numbers for tax purposes and may need a bank account number to deposit paychecks for new employees, but job hunters should be wary of any requests for such information from companies and job offers that they have not vetted fully.