Beware of Job Scams

by Valerie Miller

As if coping with a pandemic and an uncertain job market aren’t enough, you also need to be on the lookout for job scams. The Muse reports Job Scams Are on the Rise and you’ll find hundreds of other articles about employment scams online. Read more on our website Job Scams: Advice from the National Association for Colleges and Employers.

What is a job scam? Here is a description provided by the Better Business Bureau (BBB):

Employment scams typically occur when job applicants are led to believe they are applying or have just been hired for a promising new job, but they have actually fallen for a scam. This can mean giving personal information that can be used for identity theft or sending money for “training” or “equipment.” In another variation, the victim may be “overpaid” with a fake check and asked to wire back the difference.

Scam alert signs

According to the BBB’s 2020 Employment Scams Report, victims found these jobs on Indeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, Ziprecruiter, Craigslist, and other sites, and the median reported loss was $1000. The most common duties in these job descriptions include: 

  • Reshipping of packages 
  • Envelope stuffing 
  • Product assembly
  • Mystery shopping

And, these are only a few examples of job scams that continue to emerge. What can you do to avoid falling for one of these scams? Listen to your gut, use your critical thinking skills, and do your research before pursuing or accepting opportunities. 

Take a look at how they attract victims.

Work from home!

Flexible hours!

This may seem benign, particularly since many companies are hiring more remote workers due to the pandemic, but the BBB reported that 53% of employment scam victims pursued an opportunity because they could work from home. Remain vigilant when considering work-from-home jobs

No experience necessary!

Earn a generous salary!

Even if these exact phrases do not appear in a job posting, you may notice that the skills required are minimal while the pay is high. Be on the lookout for opportunities that appear to be too good to be true.

We want you!

In 80% of employment scams reported to the BBB Scam Tracker, the scammer initiated contact, often by email or text. While it’s nice to be wanted, proceed with caution if you are contacted about a job out of the blue. If it sounds like it might be real, ask for a link to a job posting on the company website. Don’t provide personal information, including your résumé, until you’ve researched the legitimacy of the company and the opportunity.

We want you now!

If you apply for a position and hear back immediately (within a day) or if you are offered a job without going through a formal hiring process, it’s probably not legitimate. Even if the process includes what appear to be traditional hiring steps (phone interviews and offer letters), if the recruiter seems overly anxious to hire you and get you started, proceed with caution.

Consider these questions before applying for a job or responding to a recruiter:

  • Does the recruiter actually work for the company they say they work for? 
    • Are they listed on the company website? 
    • Does their email address include a legitimate company domain?  (not Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) 
  • Can you find the recruiter on LinkedIn? If so, does the profile look like it belongs to a real person?
  • How professional is the communication from the recruiter?
    • Are they texting you or contacting you through social media instead of email?
    • Is their communication free of typos, spelling, or grammatical errors?
    • Do they include a professional signature in their emails?
  • Is the position with a legitimate company?
    • What does the Better Business Bureau report about this employer?
    • Does the company have a website? How developed is the website?
    • Was the website only recently created, and is it associated with a legitimate physical address? (search for the domain at https://lookup.icann.org/
  • What exactly will you be doing? Be wary of vague job descriptions.

Before accepting a job and providing any sensitive information (social security number, bank routing numbers for direct deposit, etc), be sure you understand the nature of the job.

Do not accept the job if they ask you to:

  • Pay fees for training, products or start-up kits.
  • Cash a check and/or send them money.
  • Help process payments or transfer funds using your personal bank account.

While we vet each employer before approving them in Handshake, we can’t guarantee that job scams won’t get through. Here are additional tips from various websites, including Handshake:

If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of an employer, a recruiter or a job, please don’t hesitate to contact the CCPD at career@kzoo.edu

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