Did you know that performing an online job search puts you at a higher risk of getting ripped off, scammed, suckered, or phished? (Phishing is the term for fraudulent—but official-looking—e-mails that attempt to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, and financial details.)
There are several common job scams that jobseekers might face. Work-from-home scams are one of the top rip-offs that target jobseekers.
More Americans are working from home. An estimated 30 million people work from a home office at least once a week, and many work-satisfaction surveys reveal that workers would trade a lower salary for the flexibility of telecommuting. So it’s no wonder that work-from-home scams are proliferating.
Some work-at-home scams involve “pay-to-play” schemes. An example would be if you are asked to send money in exchange for a special kit, supplies, or software that you can use to earn money working from home.
Sometimes the company will promise to reimburse you when you are hired, but the job offer never materializes. Or the scammer might ask you to pay a subscription fee to access a website or a list of work-at-home opportunities.
The most common work-at-home scams are “envelope-stuffing” jobs, assembly jobs (where you purchase supplies to assemble a craft or item, but when you submit the completed items for payment, they are rejected as “not being up to standard”), rebate processing, online survey taking, and medical billing.
Be particularly cautious if the “employer” requests payment for something in the form of a pre-paid Visa debit card. It is very difficult to recover the money lost to a fraudulent transaction with a pre-paid debit card as there is often no paper trail.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, social security number, date of birth, or other identifying information without your permission to commit fraud.
So be cautious when you are asked to provide your social security number in a job search, especially if it’s asked for in an application or form. Carefully check out any companies that send you an unsolicited job offer before you provide them with any personal information (especially your social security number).
Also, never give your bank account information (even if you’re asked to provide it so that the company can deposit your paycheck directly into your checking account).
If your identity has been stolen, and you receive a notice from the IRS about unreported wages or that your return has already been filed, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800)908-4490.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Research is probably the biggest defense you have against getting scammed. Start with a simple Google search, and find out if you’re pursuing a legitimate opportunity or if other folks have been targeted with the same scam. Job postings with lots of errors, misspellings, and typos are often scams.
Also, when you search on Google for a job posting, see if the identical ad comes up in numerous other cities. If it does, it may be a scam.
Act cautiously when receiving job offers that sound too good to be true. If you receive an e-mail out of the blue with a job offer, investigate it thoroughly before responding, or simply delete it.
Being aware of the opportunities to be scammed in your job search will help keep you from being separated from your money.
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