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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 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
Identity Theft
Package Forwarding and Reshipping Scams
Work at Home Scams

If you suspect that a job on is a scam please contact us immediately at

Also, the 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:

  • 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 job.

  • 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 fee.
  • "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 information.

    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.

How to Avoid Employment Scams

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 operation,by:

  • 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 authorities.

  • 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 sales pitch.
  • 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 Are Scammed

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 the:

  • 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. C. 20580.
Tips To Remember
  • 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

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 prosecute.

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 you money.

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 work.

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 names.

Be smart and cautious out there!

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