Subtle Job Scams & How to Avoid Them
Sometimes, job scams are easy to spot. There are a few common warning signs to look for in any job ad:
- Excessive spelling or grammar errors.
- Promises of a large salary, but no mention of any actual job responsibilities.
- The phrase “work from home” in the job title.
- Promises of a large cash reward in exchange for the use of your bank account to transfer money from abroad.
But job scams are now getting more sophisticated, and they’re on the rise. Here are a few common ones:
Fake check scams
Under federal law, banks have to make the funds you deposit quickly available, even though it can take days or weeks for a check to bounce or for a forgery to be discovered. Be careful! A scammer might send you what appears to be a perfectly legitimate cashier’s check (sometimes even bank tellers have a difficult time being able to tell the difference). The scammer then inform you that you’ve “accidentally” been overpaid, but that you should deposit the check and simply wire them back a portion of the amount. When the check later bounces, however, you’ll be held responsible by the bank for any amount you’ve withdrawn.
Direct deposit scams
Scammers request your bank account information, ostensibly to deposit future paychecks. They then withdraw money from your account and are never heard from again. This scam is especially common with work-at-home or telecommunicating jobs, reports Alison Doyle at AboutCareeers.
In another variation, victims are hired for fictitious payroll or human resources positions. The victim is asked to provide his or her bank account information to receive a deposit, and then transfer funds to another account. Even though the victim is unaware that these funds have been stolen by cyber criminals, receiving and directing the stolen funds is a crime that can lead to federal charges.
And once again, don’t trust employers who ask you to deposit funds in your own bank account and then then wire these funds elsewhere.
Hidden fee scams
You’re offered a fantastic job, if you’ll only just cover a few expenses first: a certification, recruitment, or background-check fee, or perhaps payment for training materials, work visas, and/or travel expenses. Once you pay up, however, you never hear from the “employer” again.
Identity theft scams
Fake employers might tell you that before offering you a job, they’ll need your social security number, driver’s license, or bank account details in order to check your credit score (again, there are multiple free credit report services that you can access yourself!). They can use this information to open credit cards in your name and run up massive debts.
What to do if you’ve been a victim:
If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of identity theft, be sure to place a security alert with each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion).
In addition, please report any scams to the following agencies:
Flannery Amdahl (32)
Flannery is a PhD candidate in the GC's Political Science department.