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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Online Job Scams Target The Unemployed

The Better Business Bureau recently warned that they have received 15,000 complaints about possible job scams on the Internet this year.

Fake companies are targeting the unemployed, and often ask for financial or personal information that hackers can use to break into a person’s bank accounts or steal an identity.

In some cases, the bogus company collects personal information for the sole purpose of selling it to marketing firms.

Alison Doyle, job search expert for About.com, told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that one sign of a scam is if an applicant is asked to pay for something, including training materials or a background check.

One example of that type of scam is this email (below) that’s seeking an applicant’s bank information.

This email is an example of a scam targeting the unemployed.

Doyle said it’s difficult to determine if a company is legitimate, because they tend to use dozens of fake names. So she offers some simple, but effective advice.

“If anything doesn’t look right to you, Google the company name plus ‘scam,'” Doyle said. If the company has been flagged, the Better Business Bureau or the Ripoff Report will likely have a warning listed online.

In some cases, these fake job listings even appear on legitimate career services sites, like Monster or Career Builders.

“It’s very hard to vet everybody who’s posting a job,” Doyle said. “It’s such a big business on the part of scammers, and they are making a lot of money on the backs of people who can least afford it.”

Tips To Avoid Scams

Doyle offers the following tips when applying for a job online:

  • Don’t give out your Social Security number, bank account number or driver’s license number.
  • Don’t apply for a job if the company tries to charge you money as part of the application process (in the form of training materials, application fees or background checks).
  • Don’t oblige if the company asks you to recruit other job applicants — this is likely a trick to ensnare more people into the scam.
  • Do set up a separate email address for your job search, so your personal email isn’t at risk of being hacked by scammers.
  • Do keep a list of all the jobs that you apply to (so you can make sure you aren’t contacted by a fake company that claims you submitted an application)
  • Do avoid submitting your resume through third party career sites. It’s better to apply directly through the company’s website, which is less likely to be a target of scammers.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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