“If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is” has to be one of the most useful pieces of advice any online job seeker could hear. Even though we know that there are tons of scammers using the Internet to take advantage of naive people, most of us think that we know how to avoid falling for their tricks. However, when these same scams are packaged as an unbelievable job opportunity, smart but desperate people have found themselves among the ranks of the scammed.
It's tempting to set aside everything we know about spotting a scam when we're out of work and struggling to find a way to earn money. Even when we have that sneaking suspicion that things aren't on the up and up, the hope that maybe it is true often proves to be an irresistible temptation.
Being out of work and desperate to find a way to pay the rent is a horrible place to be. But what's worse is being out of work, desperate to find a way to pay the rent, and having what's left in your bank account drained by people you'll never meet.
Here are 5 of the most common types of job listing scams. If you recognize any of these “great job offers,” stay away.
The fake job application – This scam involved a job listing that seems to be perfect for just about anyone. The job requirements are extremely vague and the position don't require any sort of training, experience or education. When you reply to the ad, you'll quickly get an email that contains a link to fill out an application on a shady looking website. The application asks for all of your personal information, including date of birth and social security number. There isn't really a job, and instead, you've just given your identity to a scammer. Although many companies ask for a social security number on their applications, don't give out this information unless you are certain that you are filling out a secure application for a legitimate company.
Pay for a credit report or background check – Like the earlier scam, this one uses a vague job listing, hoping that many people will apply. Once they send the email, applicants get a reply that says that the company really wants to hire them. The next step is to order a background check or to pay for a credit report. Once the company receives the requested reports, they will move forward and begin training. The truth is, there is no job and the scam is all about getting you to pay for bogus credit or background checks and often, they will sell your personal information as well.
Process payment scam – This scam is very similar to the Nigerian princes who want to give you a million dollars if only you'll help them claim their inheritance. Basically, the scammer “hires” people who will process large payments by depositing checks into their personal bank accounts. They take a very generous percentage as a salary and forward the rest of the money to their employer. It sounds like a great job, but soon, the checks bounce and the employee is on the hook for all of the money they've deposited, including the amount they sent to their “boss.”
Trial employment scam – After applying for this job, applicants are told that they have been selected to be one of four possible employees. The company wants to have a three-week trial in order to determine which applicant will be given permanent employment. This job seems completely legit and the new trial employ fills out the necessary identification and tax forms, then waits to hear back. The company then takes the personal information and runs.
Download web training software scam – This scam hires desperate job seekers and then makes them download and pay for a web training software program. Sometimes, it's a 14-day trial and other times, it's just a spy-ware program. Either way, the hopeful employee ends up having to pay for the program without a job to show for it. In the worst cases, they've given the scammer their bank account number or credit card information as well.
Don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of by these people who prey on desperate job seekers. There is no excuse for their behavior, but the only way to protect yourself is to be very careful about the jobs you apply for. If the job sounds too good to be true, look for the catch.
Have you seen one of these scams? Please share your story in the comments.
Image source: MorgueFile