Beware of Seasonal Employment Scams
Are you among the many people who look for seasonal work over the holidays? The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that retailers could add as many as 590,000 new temporary positions over the 2019 winter holiday season. Many consumers are scrambling to apply but some of those postings may not even be real.
During the holiday season, scammers look to take advantage of those seeking temporary work. Employment scams were the riskiest scam of 2018 according to the BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. This scam specifically targets consumers age 18-34 and has a median loss of around $1,200.
How does it work?
Scammers post fake job postings online that promise a large salary for minimal effort or skill which appeal to a wide range of applicants. Many of the positions seen in employment scams are work-from-home offers, secret shopper positions or jobs with generic titles such as caregiver or customer service representative.
Even if you are an excellent candidate for the job, beware of offers made on the spot or after a brief online chat. Victims of employment scams are usually offered the job without submitting a formal application, meeting the employer, or even having an interview.
After being hired for the position you are asked to supply your new “employer” with tons of personal information including your social security number and bank account for direct deposit. Some employment scams even request payment from the victim in order to purchase a “startup kit” to perform job duties from home.
Remember: You should always be wary if someone wants you to make an advanced payment or buy materials to start working from home. You should not have to pay money to start a job.
How do I lose money?
Employment scams can take many forms, but one is an over-payment scam. This can also be a type of fake check fraud. Frequently during an employment scam, victims are paid via check. Before depositing the check, your “employer” contacts you to explain that you have been greatly overpaid. You are then asked to immediately wire back a large portion of the check’s value. Days later the check bounces and you are now out the funds you attempted to deposit as well as the money you wired to your “employer.”
Remember: No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask him/her to wire the money elsewhere.
BBB offers the following tips to remember when looking for holiday employment opportunities:
Nowhere is scam-free. You may think that sites like LinkedIn and other well-established, reputable job sites are free of scammers, but they aren’t. Employment scams are everywhere. Whenever you receive unsolicited contact from a recruiter or employer, whether it be on a website, email, or by phone, be careful.
Businesses are often impersonated. Scammers will often pretend to be from a real company, create look-alike websites and send emails from addresses that appear legitimate. Look up the company independently through a search engine and go to the company’s website to verify the position is posted. If not, get in contact with someone from the business to make sure the job exists, and it isn’t a scam.
Do your research. Look up the business online. Start at bbb.org to see their BBB Rating and if there are red flags in their complaint history and past reviews. Look at other review websites and see if there are negative reviews about the business or if it has been impersonated in the past.
No contact information. Be cautious if a company is trying to get you to accept a job but does not have a physical location or address available. A cell phone number and website are not enough to prove the business exists.
Refusal to give you full details in writing. Ask for complete information in writing. Look carefully at any documentation they might provide to make sure it answers all your questions. If they won’t give details or don’t respond to questions, don’t do business with them.
If you encounter an employment scam, make sure to report it to BBB Scam Tracker.