Job Scams and Identity Theft
Identity theft and job fraud are
nothing new. However with the increasing popularity of the internet they have been on the
rise. Becoming educated and aware will help lessen the chances of you falling victim
to these scams.
Although JobSpider.com actively screens for
fraudulent job postings and takes proactive action by removing the
postings and reporting the fraud to the proper agencies, we
are a free information exchange job board. It is YOUR
responsibility to perform all due
diligence with any potential employer.
The following topics
below will assist you in being informed, aware, and performing due diligence with
any potential employer:
Overseas Job Scams
Package Forwarding and Reshipping Scams
Work at Home Scams
If you suspect
that a job on JobSpider.com is a scam please contact us immediately at
World Privacy Forum is
an excellent resource for additional information such as what to do if you
suspect you've been scammed.
Overseas Job Scams
Consumer Information Sponsored by Better Business Bureau
Job seekers, interested in overseas employment that promises high pay,
good benefits, free travel and adventure, should beware that there are
unscrupulous operators who have devised elaborate and very convincing
scams to bilk unwitting, and often desperate applicants.
Before getting swept away with promises of exotic job opportunities,
make sure you have thoroughly investigated the matter and know the
potential risks involved in obtaining overseas employment.
Also, note that the scams outlined in this pamphlet may be practiced
against job applicants seeking employment within the states.
Typical Overseas Employment Scams
Unlike legitimate employment firms that have permanent addresses, many
unscrupulous operators run their so-called job placement firms from
out-of-state, and may provide only a post office or mail drop address.
Although there are legitimate firms with post office or mail drop
addresses, job applicants should be aware that this practice, when used
by unscrupulous operators, makes it easier for the operators to avoid
scrutiny by their clients.
In many instances, law enforcement officials investigating a
suspicious firm have found a "fly-by-night" operation. The scam
headquarters, with little more than a desk and a telephone, may be based
in one state, but operate out of other states, making it more difficult
for the officials to track the operation.
Typical overseas job scams, include:
How to Avoid Employment Scams
Firms that charge advance fees. These operations
usually advertise in newspapers and magazines. The ads most
frequently offer construction jobs, one of the industries hardest hit
by a weak economy. Consumers who call the number, provided in the ad,
are generally told that there are immediate openings available for
which they are perfectly suited. But to lock in the job, they are
told, they must pay a placement fee in advance.
These up-front charges can range from $50 to several thousand
dollars. Firms that charge these advance fees often are so eager to
get the money in their hands and avoid using the U.S. mail service
that they may send a courier to pick up the deposit, or require that
it be sent via overnight delivery, at the applicant's expense.
However, more often than not, these firms actually have little, or
no, contacts with employers and can offer minimal assistance, despite
their service charges.
Job seekers should not be duped by a firm's promise of a refund,
if no job or lead materializes. Most of these firms that require
payment in advance do not stay around long enough for dissatisfied
customers to get their money back.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed charges against firms
that advertised that they would find overseasjobs for up-front fees
of as much as $795. One of the companies claimed that it had
information on more than 10,000 currently available overseas jobs and
that its customers would be matched with at least three prospective
employers. However, the FTC charged that few, if any, of the
company's job seekers received even an interview, much less a
- Firms that charge a fee once they provide a job
lead. A disreputable
firm may fabricate job leads, or bring in a third-party to
impersonate a potential employer, in order to get an applicant's
"900" number operators. A "900" number connected
with employment opportunities may charge a high flat fee, or
per-minute rate. In some instances, "900" number operators may fail
to disclose the cost of each call or, if printed, display it in fine
print. As a result, callers may not be aware of how much they are
spending. Some unscrupulous operators may even increase their fees by
creating delays while the caller is on the line.
In one case, for example, a consumer answered an advertisement
instructing job applicants to call an "800" toll-free number for more
information. The message on that number directed the caller to dial a
"900" number to find out about job openings. The "900" number,
however, merely directed the caller to send a stamped, self-addressed
envelope to have a job application mailed out. The consumer complied;
received only a one-page generic job application, and was billed $39
for the phone call.
The FTC now requires, among other things, that operators of "900"
numbers provide information on the cost of the call up front. When
calling a "900" number, be sure you understand the charges before
continuing with the call.
Job listing services. There are many firms that make
no promises to place you in a job. They merely sell a list of job
opportunities, providing little assurance about the accuracy of the
For instance, the information may be sold via a newsletter that
features photocopied help-wanted ads from newspapers around the
world. Many of the ads may be months old, soliciting jobs that
already have been filled. In addition, the ads may not have been
verified to ensure that the jobs actually exist.
Some ads may be from countries with strict quotas that discourage
the hiring of foreign citizens. Other publications may promise access
to information on job opportunities, but provide nothing more than a
listing of employers in various regions.
Many job seekers have lost money to disreputable advance-fee placement
firms. If you decide to use an overseas job placement firm, the best way
to avoid being scammed is to learn as much as you can about the
If You Are Scammed
- Asking for references. Request
both names of employers and employees the company has actually
found jobs for. Scam artists will typically defend their refusal
to provide the information, claiming it is a "trade secret." Or,
they frequently claim that if they told you where the openings
are, you would circumvent their services. These schemers may also
cite privacy concerns as the reason for refusing to provide the
names of people they have placed.
- Checking out reliability. Contact
the local Better Business Bureau, as well as the state's consumer
protection agency, to find out if any complaints have been filed
against the firm.
Avoiding firms that operate solely via telephone or
mail. Any reputable placement firm will almost certainly
need to meet you before it can market you effectively to an employer.
Be suspicious of any operation that claims it can place you with an
employer, without meeting and interviewing you.
Be particularly wary of firms that operate outside of the state
where they advertise. In many instances, unscrupulous operators
purposefully seek to distance themselves from their clients in order
to avoid closer scrutiny. If they are ultimately challenged, the
distance complicates an investigation by law enforcement
- Finding out how long the employment company has been in
business. Also, ask what is the firm's
present financial condition. Compare the company, and the services
offered, with other similar firms before you pay a fee.
- Getting all promises in writing.
Before you pay for anything, request and obtain a written contract
that describes the services the firm intends to provide. Determine
whether the firm is simply going to forward your resume to a
company that publicly advertised a listing, or if it will actually
seek to place you with an employer. Make sure that any promise you
receive in writing is the same as what was stated in the initial
Researching any information the firm provides to you
before you make a commitment. Make certain the job
actually exists before you pay a firm to "hold" a slot for you, and
definitely before you make plans to relocate.
Some unfortunate job seekers have been instructed to meet at a
particular place to fly to their new jobs, only to find no airline
tickets, no job, and often, no more company.
- Checking with the embassy of the country where the job
is supposed to be located. Make certain that,
as a citizen of another country, you are eligible to work there.
Asking if you will be eligible for a refund, if the leads
the firm provides you are unacceptable, or do not work out for any
other reason. If the firm has a refund policy, ask for
specific written details that spell out whether you can expect a full
refund, and if there are any time limits for receiving your refund.
Even if you are promised a refund in a written agreement, read the
fine print. A disreputable firm may include "red tape" that protects
its interests, not yours.
For example, one common scam is to include a require- ment that
job seekers check in regularly with the firm, at their own expense.
Clients who unwittingly fail to make the required contact may forfeit
their opportunity for a refund. However, they are not told this until
they ask for the refund.
If you have been victimized by an employment scam, you can help
prevent these types of incidents from recurring by reporting it to the
proper law enforcement authorities. They may be able to put the
unscrupulous operator out of business and, in extreme cases, fine them
heavily or even put them in jail.
If you believe you have been scammed, file a complaint with
Tips To Remember
- Better Business Bureau;
- State attorney general's office of
consumer affairs, where you live, and the state in which the firm
is located; and
- The regional office of the Federal Trade Commission, and the main
headquarters at 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.
- Be very skeptical of overseas employment
opportunities that sound "too good to be true."
- Never send cash in the mail, and be
extremely cautious with firms that require a money order. This
could indicate that the firm is attempting to avoid a traceable
record of its transactions.
- Do not be fooled by official-sounding
names. Many scam artists operate under names that sound like those
of long-standing, reputable firms.
- Avoid working with firms that require
payment in advance.
- Do not give your credit card or bank
account number to telephone solicitors.
- Read the contract very carefully. Have an
attorney look over any documents you are asked to sign.
- Beware of an agency that is unwilling to
give you a written contract.
- Do not hesitate to ask questions. You have
a right to know what services to expect and the costs involved.
- Do not make a hasty decision. Instead,
take time to weigh all the pros and cons of the situation. Be wary
of demands that "you must act now."
- Keep a copy of all agreements you sign, as well as copies of checks
you forward to the company.
Copyright by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.
Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of
information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers and uses
it for their own personal gain. Identity theft takes many forms. Almost
all cases, victims are left with a ruined credit or criminal history and
the complicated task of regaining their good names. Identity theft is an
evolving crime and criminals are finding new and more sophisticated ways
to steal and use information.
One particular scam involves the victim receiving an email from a
person posing as a human resource director with well-known companies
after responding to a posting on a job board. The email implies interest
in the applicant and requests a background check as part of the
employment process. The scammer claims the applicant will start work in
three weeks and requests that a background check start immediately. The
victim provides the required information and spends the next five years
cleaning up his/her credit.
Yes the scammers are getting fairly tricky however you will
lessen your chances to falling victim by following these tips:
- Do not disclose Social Security numbers. A
Social Security number is not necessary for an employer to do a
background check or credit check. If a company insists on the
number before processing an application, the applicant should
research the company independently to verify its legitimacy.
- Never give out financial information.
Employers very rarely need a prospective employee’s personal
financial information. Applicants should be very cautious of a
company requesting bank account numbers, credit card numbers or
other personal financial information.
- Check the company’s contact information
and Web site. An applicant should verify that a company is
legitimate before continuing with the application process. This
can be done by checking the address and telephone number the
company has provided and making sure the Web site is operating.
- Watch for indications that the
advertisement or job offer is bogus. Many online scams contain
misspellings and bad grammar. Also, an employer using an e-mail
address that is not affiliated with the company’s domain name can
be an indication of potential fraud.
- Be cautious of job postings from overseas employers. A legitimate
overseas company should have the resources to conduct business in the
United States without using a privately held bank account. Overseas
companies also have proven to be very hard to investigate and
Package Forwarding and Reshipping Scams
Reshipping scams involve the receiving and reshipping of merchandise
ordered online, to locations usually overseas. The shipper is an
unwilling participant and the merchandise has been paid for with stolen
or fraudulent credit cards.
Two methods are used frequently to entice victims to unwillingly take
part in this scam. The first is through the use of help wanted
advertisments posted on popular Internet job search sites.
As part of the process, the prospective employee is required
to provide all of his/her personal information, including social security
number and date of birth. Once this employee is "hired," they immediately
begin receiving packages at their residence and are then responsible for
repackaging and shipping the merchandise abroad.
Payment to these employees usually arrive in the form of a third party
cashiers check instead of a regular paycheck. Additionally, the check is
usually for an amount in excess of what had previously been agreed upon.
The employee is instructed to cash the check and electronically forward
the excess amount to an overseas bank account. After the transaction is
complete but before the check has had a chance to "clear," the financial
institution realizes that the cashier's check is not valid. The employee
is then responsible for the total amount of the fraudulent check.
By this point, the employee realizes that they have not only fallen
victim to a scam but that the operators of the scam are now in possession
of their personal information.
The second method used to facilitate reshipping scams involves the use of
Internet. Unknown subjects participate in chat rooms pretending to look
for a special friend or romance. After carefully forging a good
relationship, the subject explains that his/her country will not accept
direct business shipments from the United States. The subject asks if the
victim will permit him/her to use the victim's U.S. residential address
to receive and reship recent online purchases. As soon as the victim
agrees, packages begin to arrive for reshipment. Several weeks pass with
the victim dutifully sending on the merchandise. Eventually, victim
merchants contact the U.S. "friend" and explain that the recently shipped
merchandise was purchased with fraudulent credit card.
Work at Home Scams
We've all seen them, Work-at-home scams advertise in newspaper classified ads, on
flyers, on cable television or over the Internet. What they all have in common is
that the company will ask for an upfront fee before you can start working. The
company may claim the fee is a registration fee, a deposit on materials, or payment
for instructional books or computer disks. Here are three common scams:
Medical Billing Work: These scams advertise that there is a new and
growing market for individuals to work on home computers preparing bills for doctor's
offices. The company may offer to sell special software and training materials for
anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars. It may promise that once you have
ordered its software and learned to use it, it will provide you with clients. All too
often, the buyers find that there are no ready clients and they are supposed to try
to find their own clients. Other companies do tell buyers that they will have to find
their own clients, but say that won't be difficult. However, the buyer usually can't
find any doctor's office that will use his or her services. According to the FTC, the
medical billing field is dominated by a number of large and well-established firms,
and very few people who purchase a medical billing business opportunity are able to
find clients or recover their investment.
Envelope Stuffing: This long-running scam offers to pay $3 or $4 per
envelope you address or stuff. You send the company money for your start-up kit of
instructions and some materials. They promise to send you a list of companies that
want you to do the work. What you actually get is a list of companies that either do
not exist or do not pay people to stuff envelopes. Or you receive instructions on how
you can place ads like the one you answered and get unsuspecting consumers to send
Home Based Typist, Data Entry Processor, or Word Processor: Typically,
you must send in a (non-refundable) "application" or "signup" fee for more information
on this "great" job. You will then receive a booklet, ebook, disk or CD with
information telling you to place home typist ads like the one you replied to, and
sell copies of the "information" to those who reply to you. This means you will be a scammer too.
Sometimes, these companies enlist you in their affiliate program which you will end up
marketing by typing ads, and your success will only depend on your own marketing knowledge.
Sewing/Craft/Assembly Work: These work-at-home scams may ask you to pay
for a book or a list of companies that will pay you to do crafts such as sewing or
frame-making in your home. You may have to send money to purchase the work materials.
When you contact the companies on the list, you find they don't pay for that kind of
Avoiding Work-At-Home Rip-Offs
- Be very skeptical of any "company" that
advertises a work-at-home opportunity and requires advance
payments or deposits on any instructional booklets, brochures,
kits, programs, mailing lists, directories, memberships in
cooperative associations, or any other items or services.
- Be skeptical of earnings claims that
sound too good to be true, or promises of a regular market or
steady salary that are not substantiated.
- Use common sense. In these days of
automation and high-speed printing and mailing equipment, it is
unlikely a company would pay several dollars for each envelope you
stuff and mail.
- Ask detailed questions about what exactly
you will have to do to earn money with the program. Who will pay
you? Will you be paid on commission? Will you be asked to buy
supplies or pay for postage?
- Before entering into any work-at-home agreement, call the Consumer Protection
Division to see if complaints have been filed against the company you are
considering doing business with. Keep in mind, however, that illegitimate companies
often advertise heavily for a few months, collect their fees and then close up shop
and move on before anyone has a chance to file complaints, or they change their
smart and cautious out there! JobSpider.com