Job Scams and Employment Scams - How to Avoid Them

Avoiding the Job Scam - One Job at a Time

There is no question many of us are looking for work after having been laid off, or just simply looking for some extra part time work to get through the rough spots right now. Recent statistics show that the unemployment rate has been right around 9-10% nationwide for some time now, and in some areas is towering close to 15%. Job Scam artists have unfortunately learned all too well that where there is internet traffic (on search engines and job boards alike), there is going to be an opportunity to trick someone. 

I hate to tell you this, but you may have fallen for one of these job scams already. Some of these job scams may have had no effect as it may have been a scam artist testing the waters to see where the potential lies. But others have the potential of robbing you of your identity, which could result in a huge financial and emotional loss. 

What that means for you is that you need to be careful how you are submitting your resume and making personal information available. You also need to be careful where you are applying for work and avoid "resume spamming" (a common practice where you are so frustrated you send out your resume to any job, oftentimes without reading the description details). 

Job Scam artists have become very savvy when it comes to tricking you into giving out personal data or simply directing you to sign up for something so that they can make money on your efforts. So here are some of the newest job scams out there and a few tips on how to avoid them. More importantly, there is also a way to report job scams and make sure these guys don't get out there and do it again. I encourage you, if you realize after reading this article that you too have fallen victim to any of these job scams, that you report them to local authorities, the FBI, or the Better Business Bureau.

Before delving into the list below you learn about recent scams that effecting jobs seekers. The FTC has a great site on some of the most common scams that exits. Job Scams

Facebook Scams - Just the Click of a Link!

My cousin recently posted a link on her Facebook account inviting her friends and family to follow a link to a very sophisticated form of work at home scams. Is was so well presented, that it almost fooled me as well, until I dug deeper into the contents of the site. As a result, this paragraph is my newest addition to the job scams that exist out there, and while I am sad to be posting something like this, you, my readers, need to be aware!

The link appears to be a link to popular news site (such as CBS, MSNBC, etc). In this case for my cousin it was so sophisticated I had to take screen shots so that I can point out some of the things to look for in these sophisticated scams to alert you. You can see an outline of these screen shots on my News Scam Page. I also have created a video to actually walk you through the things to look for.

Email Job Opportunity Scams

What you need to know about these email scams is this: Scam artists out there WILL purchase access to job boards such as Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, etc, and they conduct searches everyday to find email addresses for unsuspecting victims. Recent efforts have been made by Careerbuilder (and possibly Monster and Dice as well) to "mask" your email address so that these scam artists cannot "lift" your resume/contact details from the database very easily without an extended amount of effort. However, there are smaller sites or local job boards that do not realize this or do not have the technology to stop it. As a result, your personal data is at risk, giving susceptibility to SPAM or worse, identity theft. It can also lead to your "references" getting spammed too. You will see many people now say "References provided upon request" on their resumes. This is a good idea so that you are not sharing the details on your references to potential internet scam artists

Once they have the email addresses, they have everything they need to start Spamming you with job opportunities that fit your interests. As a result, instead of the email saying you've been hired already (which are common as well, but hopefully you are not falling for those right off the bat) you get an email that almost appears legit. You read about the company, about the position, and then there is a link to "apply". Yes, it is getting that sophisticated! Instead of applying for an actual job though, you are supplying the scam artist with the personal information they need to steal your identity, etc. Some applications even go so far as to have you write in your social security number, date of birth, or license number. While there are some REAL companies that do collect this information, you need to know your rights as a candidate. More importantly, some states are now making it illegal to supply such information on an application to address these issues.

Most companies do not need you to submit information like Social Security, Date of Birth or Driver's License data online anyway (at least NOT until you have reached a certain stage in the interview or hiring process), so if I were you I would be hesitant about providing such information up front, especially if you have not even been interviewed yet. Plus, there are some legal implications for companies to store such data if you are never hired, so why would a company gather that information if the company doesn't even know if they are going to hire you just yet, let alone make an offer? So be wary if they are asking for such data up front, or just don't provide it at the beginning. If they truly need it to run background checks, etc, then you should be able to provide that in the interview or "on site" where you are applying without issue since there WILL BE a document to sign a release on such data anyway. You have the right to not provide that data up front and you also have the right to "give permission" to use such data. So politely decline to provide such information until an offer has been made or the check needs to be made to secure employment and you have something to sign specifically that gives them the right to conduct such a search in the first place.

Job Posting Scams

You will probably see these on various social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace, or on free job boards such as Craigslist, Backpage, and other free/paid job boards. They can even be found on the big paid job board sites mentioned above. Basically the way these work is to either have you click and submit your resume (which oftentimes will contain your phone number, email address, house address and work history, etc) or other data that scam artists can use to steal your identity. Sometimes this can be hard for smaller companies because they may not have an applicant tracking system (i.e. iApplicants, ApplicantPRO, Taleo, etc) where you can apply online and the company can track candidates and as a result, all they have is the email option where you send a resume by email. So before submitting your resume or sending it by email, you should probably send an email of introduction first to "scope" it out and see if it is legit. Most HR folks if it is legit will be willing to send you to their website, or send some information to do research on the company if you ask, and they will be more than willing to send you this information if they are serious about needing to fill an open role. There are a few ways job posting scams work, and since there are new ones being discovered all the time, this list may grow.

Sell Your Information

The scam artist simply uses the personal data from your resume to set up spam campaigns, send you fake jobs, or sell your information or your resumes to other job banks to make money off your information. This is actually a very simple way of making money off your data. Multi-Level Marketing type companies have members who buy lists like this all the time, so you may see an increase in SPAM, or an increase of junk snail mail that has come your way or offers for new and exciting opportunities, etc.

Affiliate Money to the Scam Artist

The other way the scam artist takes advantage of you is to use these job postings as a way to make money on you by inviting you to do something that benefits them.

So here is the way this works: Let's say I am a scam artist and go to ABC Company and join their affiliate program. What is an affiliate program you ask? An affiliate program is like a referral program. By joining I can now send people to this website and make money if a purchase is made by that visitor, or if that person joins, etc. Affiliate programs vary by company. You may even already be part of an affiliate program already since it is a very common form of advertising!

Your goal by joining the program is to attract more visitors to join the ABC Company network or make a purchase, and as a result, you make money because you referred people to sign up for those sites or purchase products. So the scam artists have become very smart here. What they do is they sign up to be an affiliate. Their next step is to get candidates to sign up. So how do they do that?

They take advantage of job seekers! They know the market is ripe right now with people searching every day for work. So who better to take advantage of? I know what you are dare they! Unfortunately they do it, and so you need to be aware of it so you can avoid them taking advantage of your situation and profiting on you.

In fact, you may have already been duped in this already. You get an email, or a response to the resume you sent, etc. The email usually sounds promising. They will say things like "we saw your resume and you are qualified", or "we want to start the interview process with you", etc. Once they have buttered you up, they invite you to fill our their online application. You click the link, and you are taken to the ABC Company link provided in the email. You fill it out and submit thinking that you have just applied, when all you really did was become a member of ABC Company's network or group or whatever it is, and you will never hear from me the scam artist, or that company again. Now there is not really any initial harm in it for you since you have not given up information, but based on the fact that you filled out the form, they made money off of you! So now I imagine I made maybe 10 cents per person that signed up, and I got 1000 people to sign up a day. It starts adding up quickly (and I can assure you that you really will think you are filling out an application, so just be wary).

Some scam artists have even gone so far as to create a fake job website altogether and have you fill out the personal data talked about earlier because you think you are qualified, so you go ahead and supply it. WHAM! Your identity is stolen, and months or years later, you finally realize you were tricked (as the smart ones lay low for awhile until the time has passed and you think "nothing" happened). 

Credit Check Scams - Free Credit Report Fraud and Scam

This type of scam is deceptive, and can be much worse than the two scams listed above. Scam artists have become even more savvy in their ways because job seekers are starting to realize they have been duped. Another common scam is based on credit checks. You send an email or resume to the scam artist in hopes for an interview. You get an email inviting you to start the process. Part of the process is to run a credit report due to some process for the company or it is a normal part of business (which is very true for many companies that do background checks and such prior to hiring someone) so it seems legit. They ask you to go to a site to request this check. So you go to the link and fill it out and get your free credit report. I mean, it is free right? So no harm done? WRONG!

So here is what has happened or what could have happened (you will never know which). Most free credit report sites have to provide those reports for free because guess what? The 3 major credit bureaus require it by law! Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You have rights under the FCRA, and other regulations to get a free credit report from each bureau for free every year. So it is indeed true, you do get your report for free. But here is where the scam comes into play. By signing up for the free credit report from the site they sent you too, what you actually did was sign up for a web service that will charge you a fee to "monitor" your credit. So your free report just turned into a monthly service fee that you were not wanting in the first place. You were just looking to apply for a job! So not only do they get credit for you signing up for the visit, but also for signing up for the service. 

In some extreme cases they also have a tool built on their scam site where they will record your key strokes so that the scam artist will know exactly what you type in so that you are now supplying them with your personal details. Identity theft is imminent at that point, it is just a matter of time before they finally decide to start using your information.

Here is the truth about credit checks and background checks as it relates to employment: 

Companies do indeed request credit checks and background checks when hiring. In some cases, the law requires that they do a thorough check to avoid liability later on. BUT, if you have not signed an authorization form that allows them to run this check where you will provide them your personal data, then they are not legit. ALSO, most companies will run these checks on their own. They will never ask you to run the check yourself and request that you fax them a copy, or send it to them by mail (this is absurd because a criminal could send me a fake very easily!). If the company is asking you to do this, RUN AWAY! If you have already faxed in your info or sent it to someone in that fashion, then you may have been scammed. You need to report it immediately.

If you need tips on how to increase credit score or improve your credit score, you can see those here: 

Increase Credit Score - How to improve your credit score over the next 6-12 months

Get a FREE Equifax Credit Report without the SCAM
Free Credit Score at TransUnion without the SCAM

Multi-Level Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Paid E-mails, Paid to Surf, Work from Home

Multi-Level Marketing - MLMs - Pyramid

Whatever they want to call it, there is no doubt that these scams are going to start popping up. You know the kinds: your friend calls you up and says "you got to see this". You go to a small meeting, where people talk about the next best "opportunity" in a particular field, such as real estate, investing, vitamins, drinks, weight loss, etc. The only way to take advantage of the "revolution" is to jump on board now (as if you are going to take the country by storm). Once on board, get as many of your friends and coworkers  to join as possible because you will make more money that way. Oh, and don't forget, there is a product to sell, so be sure to do a little bit of that too.


The sad part is, there ARE some good companies out there that do well in this arena (Avon for example) but for every good apple in this world, there are a million bad apples. Is it any wonder that there are people that make tons of money in these types of companies during economic downturns? Well the reason is because they are taking advantage of your misfortune. They know you are almost desperate to find work or do something. So they woo you with the potential, and now is the best time ever, and because of your situation, they use your senses and emotions to get you involved. You will have great support, your friends will be doing it too, and now everyone will win! That's why you see an uptick of "distributors" for these companies during economic downturns, sales will go up and appear as if things are awesome so get on now...then reality will settle in and they will either have to wait for the next big product or idea to start it up again, or they will wait for the next economic depression.

It turns out the only true winner is the guy/gal at the top that already made $500,000 the last time there was a down turn and he/she is just really good at being flashy with the prizes won and money gained in days past to influence the weak to jump on board so that they can continue their spending habits and being "speakers" for others like you across the country. So you will see a lot of job postings, even on the big job boards that are not jobs at all, but "opportunities". Most will ask for money up front to join. If they do, then you already know not to get involved. But if you were to buy your own business, wouldn't you have to invest first? This is the same thing right??  WRONG! Do your research on the company. Is it a product you even like? Will you enjoy selling it? Will you enjoy selling the product the idea of joining you on your team to your friends? Will they like the same thing? If you answer no to any of these questions, don't do it! It is a waste of money, and more importantly, it is a waste of your precious time.

Get Paid to Email - Get Paid to Surf the Web - GPT

Other popular scams are paid email or paid to surf scams (sometimes just called GPTs). You sign up, you get paid $.00001 for every email you read and we promise to send you enough emails that you could make hundreds a month, maybe even thousands. What they lack are advertisers to even send the emails, and then when you read the fine print you can't even cash out on your earnings until you have made a minimum of $100 anyway. Or better yet, their ONLY advertisers are MLM companies and other scams who are looking to prey on you even more, so it is a waste of time reading the emails anyway. Kind of like the scam artists promoting to the victims. Their programs are set up similar to other MLM scams where the more people you get to sign up "under" you to read emails as well, the more you will make. They also require that you stay on the advertisers page for 30 seconds, or 15 seconds, etc. Well when you do the math, if you actually did get a 100,000 emails to read (which could earn you $1) AND you had to look at each one for even 10 seconds, it would take you almost 300 hours to complete. Wow, that's about .33 cents an hour. Same concept for paid surfing scams, only you surf web pages and view them for so many seconds for a credit to be used to add your own pages for advertising or cash in on. By the way, if you want to make money with Google ads on your paid to surf site, Google will shut you down quick. They do not accept it as a legitimate form of advertising (as well they should) so you will no longer be able to make money with your Google AdSense account.
Besides, I could make more money at a job for minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour now!

Work from Home Opportunities

The last topic to cover here is work from home opportunities. These actually do exist out there, they really do. BUT, keep in mind that most of these opportunities are usually due to the fact that the person that is working remotely or from home worked at the office for that company for quite some time first, to prove themselves.

Now there are some legitimate companies that will allow you work from home to do customer support and such. These are very real. If they are real you will know right away because during the application process there is usually an hour to an hour and a half assessment, typing test, and more to evaluate your ability to handle this type of work. In fact, if you are not prompted to take a test like this during the application process, this may be a sure sign of a scam right away.

So how do you tell? The easiest way to tell is if they charge you to get the exclusive information to become a work at home mom, or work at home agent, or whatever they want to call it. (The biggest target for these scams are mothers who stay at home). The reality is that if you are wanting to do typing, or transcribing, etc from home, there are legitimate schools out there that offer these trainings and courses so that you can become certified and be able to do this work. The easiest example I can give on this is massage therapy. A friend of mine paid her way to go to school to become a massage therapist. After paying her way and putting in several hundred hours of work, she was able to take an exam to get her license. At that point, once licensed, she still had to go out and get her own clients. She had to build her own business, track her own taxes, etc.

Work at home is the same way. You can get licensed, certified, etc to work at home to do legitimate work. But once you are done with the training, it is usually your own responsibility to go out there and find your own clientele. So if you are not ready to go and start out that way, you might want to think twice about making the investment.

Most of the scams I have seen in this area try to sell you the best selling book, or ebook, or program, etc that is going to teach you how to go through the training process to become trained and certified to work from home. AVOID them. This is a sure way to know it is a scam. If there is not some type of formal training involved, or testing in the first place to find if you would be eligible for this kind of work, then you just need to look for something else. Besides, most of the work at home opportunities I have seen where you work from home on the phone or computer require a certain set of hours for you to be logged in everyday. So the concept of flexibility is not always prevalent nor is it always available. Others may require some extensive travel to pick up certain documents needed to do transcription or data entry, so you will also need to consider this as well.

How to Avoid Job Scams

So here is the nitty-gritty on how to avoid the job scams listed above.

LOOK at your resume. Do you have your name, email address, home address and/or phone number on it? REMOVE IT!
But wait a minute, if I remove it, how will the workplace know it is from me?

SIMPLE - have a copy of your resume without the info so that you can send it those places you are not sure, and if you are on a legitimate company site submitting a resume, use your normal resume (because you know that the resume is going to the right person). Plus if you are filling out an online application, aren't they getting that information already? Trust me....if you are truly qualified, they will know how to contact you and will want to get a hold of you based on the information you may have provided on your application already.

If the company does not accept online applications and the only way to apply is by email, then call the company up and find out if there is a particular person you can send it too, or put it to the attention of someone in particular. Plus, it will help you to know if it is a legitimate company as well if contact information is there to do so.

Another idea is IF you have a "Word" version of your resume, convert it to PDF and send the PDF version instead (that way scam artists can't just take your Word version, make some subtle changes, and sell it). Plus it makes it a bit harder for spider bots and other computer generated programs to lift that data and give it to the scam artist for their own use.

NEVER fax your credit report or anything to anybody. And if they are inviting you to run your free check online, run away. Go to the bureau itself and request your check if you really want it. 

Stay On Top of Your Credit!

Be wary of the MLM stuff. You should be able to to make a legitimate business out of it WITHOUT having to get a whole bunch of other people to join as well. If you can't be passionate about it, don't do it. You may lose sleep over it the first few nights because it sounds so promising, but like a one night stand, your sponsor may not be sitting next to you in the morning. That is not a fun place to be in. Only put your heart into what you can truly commit to (both in time, money, and passion). Plus, if you cannot make enough money JUST SELLING THE PRODUCT, then it s not worth it. It is one thing to start a business to sell a product, it's a whole other story when you have to bring others into it and get them to do the same. Just be aware it is hard, takes a lot of time and effort. IT IS NEVER PART-TIME. No matter how they spin it. 

Finally, just know that work at home sounds appealing, but you need to really do some thorough research on it to be sure you can handle it.

As mentioned in some of my resume tips, avoid being a resume spammer. All this will do is push more of your information out there than you need to. Plus, it will not help you, but actually hinder you to finding work.

How do I report if I have been a victim?

The links to the credit bureaus above are great places to report it since they have a monitoring way to check that. So that is a good start. You also may want to report it to a local police department. Another great place to report it is through the FBI. You can File a Complaint very easily. Most people do not take the time to report it, so the scam artists get away with it over and over again. The more reports that come in, the more the FBI knows there is a legitimate issue. So take a stand and report it!

There are also some additional Internet Prevention Crime Tips that is listed there that I would also recommend that are not job related. Debt elimination scams are prevalent and may be worth looking at as well since that is also a common scam today too with so many suffering from credit card debt or other debts due to the recession and such.