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A job scam targets people who are seeking employment. These scams are fraudulent offers for work, meant to mislead people seeking legitimate employment. Often, the goal of these scams is to trick job seekers into giving money, divulging personal information, or providing free labor. If you’re currently looking for a job, it’s important that you know what kind of activity to avoid.

Common scams to look out for

Much like any time of scam, job scams can come in several forms. Being able to recognize an illegitimate job offering is your first defense against being scammed. Here are some more common examples for you to look out for:

Work-From-Home Scams

A lot of people love the idea of making money from the comfort of their own home, being their own boss, and setting their own schedules. Scammers know this. The kinds of at-home jobs that scammers offer could be anything from reshipping to selling products to people you know. These jobs claim to offer large paychecks, but will not be able to fulfill that promise. If you do receive a check from one of these fake jobs, the check will likely be fraudulent. You may be asked to pay for useless certifications or find your credit card being charged without your permission. Ultimately, you’ll only lose money.

Nanny, Caregiver, and Virtual Personal Assistant Scams

Fake job ads for nannies, caregivers, and virtual assistants can be posted to job sites but also may come to you in the form of emails that appear to be from someone in your community or part of an organization you know, such as your college/university. When you apply for these kinds of jobs, you may receive a check from the person who will then tell you to deposit the check, keep part of the money, and send the rest to someone else. The check is a fake and it will bounce. As a result, your bank will want you to repay the full amount while your scam employer keeps the real money for themselves.

Mystery Shopper Scams

Some retailers and restaurants hire people to go into their businesses to try their products or services in order to get a report on their customer experience. While there are some honest mystery shopping jobs out there, many are scams. Getting paid to shop can be very appealing, especially for someone who is looking for a side job or is going to school full-time. This is why many people are so easily allured by this kind of scam. One way to know if the mystery shopper job is fake is if you’re asked to pay an upfront fee. You should never have to pay to get a job.

Job Placement Service Scams

Many staffing agencies, headhunters, and other placement firms can offer honest job search services and can be very useful for those struggling with finding a job. However, there are also many of these “agencies” which will lie about what they can do for you. They may promote outdated or fake job openings and charge fees for these services – both of which are signs that you are being scammed. An honest placement agency will typically not charge a fee to job candidates. If you are asked to pay a fee, especially if it’s in advance, the services are not to be trusted.

What to do if you’re a victim of a job scam

If any of these scam tactics seem familiar to you, you may have fallen victim to a job scam. Here are a couple of steps that you can take if you believe you’ve been scammed:

  1. Reach out to your bank: If you are a victim of a fake check scam or any other form of job fraud which has an impact on your funds, your bank may be able to talk through options for combating your losses. Reaching out to a client services member can give you an opportunity to work through such events.
  2. Report the fraud to the FTC: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accepts complaints about businesses, their practices, and issues of identity theft. In reporting the fraud, the FTC can conduct an investigation into the employer.
  3. File a complaint with the BBB: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can also help to investigate the fraudulent company and make the information available to others. The Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker is a great resource for reviewing and reporting job scams you may come across.

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