The Better Business Bureau cautions job seekers, however, to avoid becoming targets for scam artists eager to take advantage of their inexperience.
Some of the more common online job scams:
• The payment-forwarding or payment-transfer scams: In this scenario, the con artist pretends to be an employer. He uses a job ad or information from a résumé posted online to convince the job seeker that he is a legitimate employer. Once he gains the victim’s trust, he uses one of several ploys to request the job seeker’s bank account number. He might tell the job seeker he needs it to deliver his/her paycheck by direct deposit. Or the scammer might promise high wages for a job that involves forwarding, transferring or wiring money from a personal bank account, a PayPal account or from Western Union to another account. The job seeker, as part of his pay, is instructed to keep a small percentage of the money as payment. The money the victim transfers has invariably been stolen, so the job candidate ends up committing theft and wire fraud.
• The “personal” invitation: This job scammer sends mass e-mails to long lists of recipients. The e-mail claims to have seen your résumé on the Internet, notes that your skills match the requirements for their job and invites you to complete an online job application. Or the e-mail might state that it is in response to the résumé you submitted for a job opening. Is this a cold-contact e-mail from a business or person that is not familiar to you? Did you apply for a job with this organization? Type the company’s Web site address into your browser and contact the company via telephone to check it out.
• The ID verification scenario: During the job application process, or before promising to schedule a personal interview, the scam artist will say the business needs to scan your driver’s license, passport of other means of identification to verify your identity. Or, the scammer claims to need your bank account or credit card numbers to run a credit check before proceeding with the job application process.
• The inside scoop on federal jobs: Avoid Web sites that promise, for a fee, to give you the inside-scoop on how to get a Federal or Postal Service job. They are likely to use a governmentlike name, such as the “U.S. Agency for Career Advancement” or the “Postal Employment Service.” All federal government positions are publicly announced, and federal agencies never charge application fees or guarantee an applicant will be hired.
• Opportunities abroad: High-paid job opportunities overseas for people who lack significant experience in a particular field are virtually nonexistent. Legitimate businesses seeking to fill jobs at locations outside the U.S. will not ask for money up front; use post office boxes instead of office addresses; make promises of employment and guarantees of refunds; or charge fees for giving you a job lead.
Before you send money or personal information when responding to job ads or completing job placement contracts, the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission suggest that you:
• Be aware that legitimate employers do not need your bank account number for direct deposit before you have reported for work.
• Check on the firm’s reliability and complaint record with outside sources such as the BBB or local consumer protection offices.
• Never divulge personal information over the Internet unless you have checked on the company’s reputation and marketplace record, you are using a secure means of transmitting the data and you are comfortable with the business’s privacy protection policies.
There are a variety of free and low-cost resources available to help you in your job search, including local and state government job service offices, the Internet, local libraries and universities and community colleges. Also always use www.bbb.org to verify the reliability of unknown firms.