Employment scams are definitely nothing new, but they do seem to be much more frequent as job seekers turn to free classified websites and message boards for leads. One of the best ways to protect yourself from the efforts of these con artists is to be informed about some of the more common methods they employ. If you’re currently looking for a post, here are some red flags you should look out for.
- No-Interview Hiring – Receiving an offer of employment without going through an interview or screening process should be cause for immediate suspicion. Most legitimate employers would balk at the idea of allowing a complete stranger to care for their children.
- Payment Sent Before Services Are Rendered – One of the popular variations on the classic employment scam is to send a check or money order for a “signing bonus” before arranging a face-to-face meeting. After victims deposit the counterfeit check, the “employer” will request the return of those funds due to a change of plans. By the time the bank learns that a check is fraudulent, you’ve already sent your own money to the scammer.
- Employers Live in Another Country – One of the most common ways that scam artists explain their inability to meet in person to conduct interviews is that they currently live in another country, and are in the process of moving.
- Unrealistic Salaries – Remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Outrageously high salaries, bonuses or perks are all lures used by scammers to convince job-seeking nannies to accept their non-existent post.
- Shipping Equipment to Your Address – If a prospective employer asks for your permission to have goods or equipment shipped to your home to be picked up by someone else, you should be wary. This is a method employed for fencing stolen goods, and is also a ploy to get your home address.
- Wire Transfers – Any email regarding employment that mentions the wire transfer of funds should immediately be considered suspicious; this is just an updated version of vintage cashier’s check and money order scams.
- Requests For Personal Information – Sometimes a scammer will request your personal information, claiming that they’re running a background check. In reality, all release forms for background checks must have a signature; if you haven’t met your prospective employer and signed a background check release form, do not give out your social security number or other information.
- Vague References to Third Parties – The phrasing of emails from those attempting to benefit from an employment scam is often similar to that of their peers. References to mysterious “agents” or “clients” that will be involved in a financial transaction are almost always cause for alarm.
- Overpayment Due to Clerical Mistakes – One of the many ways that con artists convince job seekers to part with hard-earned money is to send a check, money order or wire transfer that’s significantly more than the agreed-upon amount. After blaming the mistake on a clerical error, these con-men will request that you send the excess back to them.
- Requests for Bank Information – Anyone who requests your bank account or routing number during the application or interview process should be viewed with skepticism. This information will grant scammers access to your accounts, which can easily be drained.
For the most part, these scams all have the same basic concept. There are small variations from time to time, but the outcome is always the same: job seekers find themselves investing time or even money into positions that do not exist.