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Job scams are highly prevalent in a shoddy job environment, with scam artists aching to jack into your bank account by any means necessary. Since 10 percent of the U.S. population is on the job hunt, a great way for scam artists to gain your trust - and consequently, access into your bank account - is through job recruitment scams.
With online scam artists getting high tech with their cons, it's important to make sure you know how to tell the real job opportunities from the ones that are just a little too good to be true.
Tip 1: Unusually High Salaries are Being Offered for a Menial Job Position
While being offered an $85,000 salary for a basic executive assistant position would be nice, it's highly unlikely - unless you're working at Goldman Sachs. The tired old adage "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is" still rings true, and if you're gaping in disbelief over an unbelievable job opportunity, it's probably not legit.
Tip 2: Don't Hand Out Personal Information
Many applicants, eager to move forward on the job search, will give out too much information when asked. But job applicants should be wary of any job recruiter or hiring manager that asks for personal information, such as a social security number, during the interview or applicant review process. The only time you should ever hand over personal identification like that is after you've been hired and are setting up payment and tax information.
Tip 3: Tailored Emails for Job Opportunities
I see these emails in my inbox daily, and I'm not even actively searching for a job. So, I can see how easy it would be to follow up with one when you've already sent out three hundred résumés to different prospects. Look at the name of the company to see if it looks familiar and if it's one you've applied with previously. Also, if someone is going to email you about an open position that you've applied for, it will likely be a response to an email that you've already sent. Unsolicited emails from "prospective employers" should be checked with caution and suspicion. If in doubt, do a quick Google search for the aforementioned employer and see if anyone has reported them in a phishing scam.
Apply For a Job Online, Have Your Identity Stolen
Turns out, typos on a resume or getting the hiring manager's name wrong aren't the only things job seekers have to fret about when they apply for openings online. They also have to worry about being scammed.
Web savvy criminals are preying on uninformed and desperate job seekers to turn a quick buck and steal people's identity or credit, and even drain their bank accounts.
For example, take this unsuspecting job seeker who was hired via a Craigslist posting to transcribe MP3 files into Word documents for an "international company." It was a work-from-home, part-time job. The "employer" collected her name, address and social security number, claiming it was necessary for the IRS. She did two weeks' worth of work and sent them her invoice. They didn't pay her right away but did send more work. As a "new employee" she was reluctant to insist on getting paid right away.
After three unpaid invoices and six weeks on the job, she grew concerned and turned to a chat board forum to ask for advice on how to collect the money due to her. One of the people who responded was Susan P. Joyce, owner of Job-Hunt, an award winning employment portal. Joyce clued her in that hat she had probably fallen prey to a scam and may be the victim of identity theft.
Joyce says that there were several warning signs that the scammers were trying to steal her identity. They used a generic, untraceable email address (the company name turned out to be bogus). Also, there was no website for the company; the only search engine results for it were other job postings on Craigslist and other sites.
"Make it a habit to verify before you trust" says Joyce. "Check to make sure that the recruiter's email is coming from a company domain and not a general email account. Look for verifiable contact information on the posting and cross check this information via a search engine or a site such as Superpages.com. Check the company domain registration using tools such as DomainTools.com and note how long the domain name has been registered. Do not trust if the domain name is a couple of days to a couple of months old or if it is private which means that there is no employer contact information to verify."
Job boards are not the only way that scammers gather information on a job seeker's identity. Thieves also cull information from the online profiles that many job seekers use to build their network and source job leads. According to Jeremy Miller, identity theft expert and director of operations for Kroll Fraud Solutions, "what seem like small details about your personal life can amount to a big reward for identity thieves." He suggests that anyone using social networking sites be careful with the following information:
Miller adds, "Keep in mind that even individuals who include just one or two of these features on their profiles are not completely out of the woods when it comes to identity theft." In a tactic known as synthetic identity theft, thieves piece together real components of different people's information to create one unique identity. That is, they'll take your date of birth and match it up with someone else's address or Social Security number to create a "synthetic identity." This type of fraud "may significantly impact victims later on in life," Miller says. And "Synthetic identity fraud is particularly hard to detect and even harder to fix."
If you are a job seeker, think before you post. When in doubt, Miller says, consider this: "If you wouldn't give this information to a stranger on the street, you probably don't want to put it online for the world to see."