Beware of Online Help Wanted Scams, BBB Warns

BBBAs the unemployment rate climbed yet again during this seemingly endless recession, desperate job seekers need to be extra careful not to get sucker punched by bogus help wanted ads.

Many of these phony help wanted listings, the Better Business Bureau warns, are designed to extract upfront fees or steal your identity.

For instance, a recent job scam in upstate New York lured victims with phony data entry job listings on craigslist -- ads supposedly placed by the BBB.

A local job seeker who responded to the fake job offer was informed via email that she'd been chosen for an interview. The email also told her that employees are paid via direct deposit and invited her to click a link in order to enroll with their preferred bank.Smelling a rat -- being asked to surrender her personal information to complete strangers -- the consumer refused to comply with the scammers and contacted the BBB instead.

"The goal of most employment scams is to get the victim to give away personal information, making themselves vulnerable to identity theft or to pay upfront fees," David Polino, president of the Better Business Bureau, said in a statement.

"While it can be exciting to be contacted for a job interview, job seekers should take a step back and look closely at all the details before responding," Polino addded.

While job seekers commonly turn to social networking sites, craigslist and other online postings to find work, the BBB says consumers need to be learn how to spot warnings signs of fake listings and offered the following tips:

  • Exercise caution. When using social networking sites like Facebook or web sites like craigslist, be sure to check the company's actual website and verify the position to make sure it actually exists. If you don't see the job listed on the site, it's probably a scam.
  • Guard your resume. All prospective employers want to see your resume, but make sure you only send or upload it to a legitimate company, since resumes offer identity thieves rich pickings in terms of your personal information.
  • Check out the company.. Many scammers use company names that are similar to reputable ones to fool job seekers. Check out the company with the BBB.org and SiteJabber, and Google the company as well. Whenever possible, apply for the job through the company's site.
  • Never, ever pay upfront fees. No credible job offer will ask a potential employee to foot the bill for background checks, credit reports or administrative fees before an interview.
  • Protect your personal information. Job seekers should never provide their Social Security number or date of birth until they've verified the legitimacy of the position. And never offer bank account information for direct deposit setup until you've officially been hired.
  • Beware of the "perfect offer."Job seekers should be extra wary of any job offering great pay for short hours or minimal experience. If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it probably is.
  • Avoid work-at-home offers. Most jobs that promise you the ability to earn big bucks from home are scams designed to trick you into divulging your credit card information, cashing fake checks or paying for training that should be free. Employees who work from home typically need to undergo a traditional hiring process and are usually expected to have prior experience.
  • Report fraud. If you encounter a job scam or internet fraud, including craigslist scams, report it to the BBB by emailing info@upstatenybbb.org and contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at (800) 251-3221 or go to www.ic3.gov.

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