Earlier this year, I published a guide on five common types of scams that fraudsters use to prey upon LinkedIn users. One of those schemes involves a scammer tricking a job seeker into accepting a seemingly legitimate, high-paying "work from home" job that in actuality offers no compensation. In most instances of the scam, the fake company either terminates the employee and never sends a check or disappears completely a week or two after first bringing the worker onboard. Unfortunately, unpaid "work from home" ploys are not the only scams to which job seekers might fall victim. According to a survey conducted by the employment resource FlexJobs back in September 2015, approximately 17 percent of those looking for employment have reported falling victim to a job scam at least once. That figure is not surprising. For every one legitimate job posting, FlexJobs found 60-70 postings that were fake. Those ads run the gamut of possible employment-related scams, including phishing attacks, unsolicited job offers, and social media prowling. With National Consumer Protection Week having just passed, it is important to note that three new online scams are now specifically targeting job seekers interested in work-from-home jobs. These are the reshipping scam, the post office scam, and the online interview scam.
Scam #1: The Reshipping Scam
Source: Wikimedia Commons In a reshipping scam, a company hires you as a "reshipper." This position involves receiving packages filled with tech devices, such as laptops, iPhones, and other products; testing to ensure that the devices work; repacking them; and shipping them to an overseas location. There's just one problem. None of this is legitimate. U.S. Postal Inspector Steven Bolz has seen people fall for this type of scam in the past.
"Eventually, they found out these labels were comprised of counterfeit postage and the merchandise that was being ordered was being ordered with stolen credit card numbers," Bolz revealed, as quoted by FOX6Now.com.
To make matters worse, the scammers generally don't pay victims for their time and effort.
"So far, I have never spoken to anybody who took this job that ever got a dime," commented Bolz. "At the end of the day, they are all left with an empty wallet."
Job-seekers should steer clear of reshipping ads in most cases. If the posting appears to originate from a good company that you haven't heard of before, you should contact the Better Business Bureau to verify that the business is legitimate.
Scam #2: The Post Office Scam
(Source: NBC News) Fraudsters are now targeting people interested in obtaining a job with a federal or post office. They do so by advertising online or in local newspapers that they can help job-seekers obtain a position for a fee. Others claim they can help interested parties prepare for entry exams if they agree to purchase study materials. Here we encounter one of the oldest adages when it comes to looking for work: You should never have to pay anything to obtain a job. Anyone that offers to find you a job for a fee is merely seeking to bamboozle you. Additionally, you can find a complete listing of available positions by visiting usps.com/careers or by visiting the website of your federal office of choice, thereby making a third party's help irrelevant. You can find this type of job by yourself.
Scam #3: The Online Interview Scam
Source: Ideas that Prosper The online interview scam is less of a standalone scheme and more of a setup for other ploys. In this type of ruse, you apply for a position with a reputable business, such as a Fortune 500 company. A representative of that firm contacts you and asks that you complete an interview via instant messenger. Once you complete that meet-and-greet, you are offered the job. Or are you? Fraudsters are now commonly abusing the names of recognizable companies in an attempt to lure people into providing their personal information, such as Social Security numbers and banking information, or to eventually set people up as reshippers. (See above.) Ultimately, the "employees" will never be paid for their time and effort; worse, they could be sent to prison for participating in a counterfeit reshipping operation or have their identity stolen by scammers. With this in mind, it is important for job-seekers to contact a company if they start to have suspicions about a position they are interested in applying for or accepting.
Scammers are always coming up with new schemes to target job-seekers. That's why Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, feels that awareness can go a long way towards preventing someone from falling into a fraudster's trap.
"The best protection against job scams is to equip job seekers with information about the latest techniques scammers are using to trap their victims. Many people believe that job scams are always very obvious and easy to avoid, but unfortunately there are an increasing number of sophisticated job scams," explains Fell. "Since there are an estimated 60 to 70 scams for every one legitimate work-from-home job position, job seekers… have to be vigilant in guarding against fraudulent opportunities."
With that in mind, job-seekers should never give out sensitive information during a job search or accept positions for which they have not applied or interviewed. All the while, they should carefully research a company before applying for a job, and they should exercise caution whenever they click on job posting links. For more information on how you can protect yourself against a job scam, please click here. Title image courtesy of ShutterStock