August 6, 2012
Job sound too good to be true? Watch out for scams
With millions of Americans out of work and looking for a job, the latest scam, which preys on job seekers, is particularly despicable.
A West Palm Beach, Fla., woman contacted The Palm Beach Post about an email she received purporting to be from Ferguson Plumbing Supplies, the largest plumbing wholesaler in North America.
“If you have access to a computer, and have up to three hours spare time per-week, you can get paid. Would you like to work part or full time online, and paid weekly? If yes, then please read carefully,” the fraudulent email states.
It then goes on to say that people can make $700 to $2,000 a week by working a few hours as a subcontractor for Ferguson in its “multi level marketing network.”
Red flagsThe Better Business Bureau advises job hunters to be on the lookout for these red flags:
- Employer e-mails that are rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Most online fraud is perpetrated by scammers outside the United States.
- E-mails purporting to be from job posting websites claiming there's a problem with a job hunter's account. A job hunter might receive an email saying there has been a problem with their account or they need to follow a hyperlink to install new software.
- An employer asks for such extensive personal information as Social Security or bank account numbers. Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they've gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal information to fill out the necessary paperwork suspicions were raised -- and rightly so. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.
- An employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and always research the company with their BBB first.
- An employer asks for money upfront. Aside from paying for a uniform, it is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job.
- The salary and benefits offered seem too good to be true.
Ferguson states on its website that it is aware of the job offer scam and advises victims to contact their local law enforcement agency and file an online report with both the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Poor grammar and punctuation and repetitious phrases aside, some people have fallen for it. And scams using the names of legitimate businesses and organizations to lure job seekers are increasing, says the Better Business Bureau.
The scammers obtain people’s personal information to steal their identities and send them a check, asking them to cash it and send part of it on to the scammers. Of course, the check they receive isn’t any good. The scam is said to originate from Nigeria.
Recently, the BBB of Metropolitan Dallas uncovered a scam where job hunters were told they had to pay $64.50 for a background check before they could be considered for a cleaning job. Predictably, after paying for the background check, the job seeker never heard from the company again.
“No matter how many times you advise people, you hear the horror stories,” says Michael Galvin, vice president/communications for BBB of Southeast Florida and the Caribbean.
“Job seekers need to be on the lookout for potential scams. Before posting your resume to a career site or inquiring about a job, make sure you know with whom you are dealing,” Galvin says.
Call the company directly to make sure the offer is legitimate.
“Many job scammers are having candidates set up direct deposit accounts as part of the application process and making it seem as though it’s naturally part of the process to get an interview -- when it’s absolutely not,” Galvin says.
The scam is similar to other work-at-home schemes, except that it adds another layer by using the names of well-known companies or such organizations as the Virginia-based Association of Corporate Travel Executives and FBN Construction LLC of Ohio. But there are many more.
While the Internet has made searching for jobs easier, it also provides an opportunity for ID thieves and scammers to take advantage of eager -- and unsuspecting -- job seekers. It’s becoming common for scammers to lure in candidates with phrases like, “Get rich quick -- without even leaving your home!” all in the hopes of getting their personal information.
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