BBB: Don't fall for job scams while looking for seasonal work

If you are looking to earn a few extra dollars, don't get caught up losing money in a job scam. Better Business Bureau's Emily Valla explains how one Oregon man lost hundreds of dollars.

"He reported his ordeal to BBB’s Scam Tracker when he fell victim to a seasonal employment scam. He says he received an unsolicited email with a job offer. The victim says the Japan-based company needed an 'Account Receivable' agent in the United States, and promised a 5 percent commission and monthly wages of nearly $5,000," Valla said.

"Unfortunately, the victim fell for the scheme and expressed interest in the job. Not surprisingly, the phony recruiter then sent over a 'contract' along with a check for $200. He then ordered the victim to deposit that check in his account and wire the money to another man in Houston, Texas. The victim says he did as told and didn't think there were any problems until the bank called to tell him the original check never cleared. The victim ended up losing more than $200 before he caught on and reported the scheme to BBB," Valla continued.

According to the BBB Risk Index, employment scams are 3rd on the list of riskiest scams, meaning it’s both common and people tend to lose money to it. Additionally, fake checks make up 30-40% of employment scams. Fake checks are often part of an overpayment scheme.

"In an overpayment scheme, job seekers are told they have been hired and will be sent their first paycheck immediately. The check is for more money than expected, and the new 'employee' is asked to forward funds to another party, supposedly to buy equipment, pay a bill or another excuse. This paycheck is likely fraudulent and will bounce, leaving the job seeker to cover the overdrawn funds," Valla said.

BBB warns to look for these red flags while job searching:

  • If a job solicitation is from a recognizable company, check the real company website. Last year BBB received reports of several phony “Target” and “Macy’s” seasonal hiring solicitations that led to phishing schemes. Be sure to check the company's official website to verify if the job is official.
  • Vague company descriptions are a huge red flag if job hunters can’t identify the company’s contact information, owner, headquarters or even product. Just because an ad is listed online doesn’t mean the business is legitimate. Check the BBB App to see if the employer has a good rating. 
  • If job seekers are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it’s most likely a scam. Be wary of jobs that hire on the spot or conduct interviews via online chat or instant messaging services. 

For more resources and information, visit www.bbb.org.

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