BBB warns job seekers to beware of online job scams

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By Better Business Bureau

With unemployment up, and schools across the area out for the summer, job seekers are turning their heads online to search for employment. The Better Business Bureau warns, while that jobs you find online may sound tempting, they could be a scam!

A local woman contacted the BBB after she was offered an employment opportunity through the popular online auction site, Craigslist. The “employer,” a man using the name Robert Filter, was looking for a personal assistant. Filter, who claimed to operate a family farm, and have other investments and businesses in real estate and as a private lender, was offering $500/week after taxes for the job. The local woman knew something was wrong when she received a $3,900 check via UPS and was told to cash the check, keep $500, wire transfer $3,000 to a person in New York, and use the remaining $400 for transfers and transportation costs. The “employer” said this wire was meant for “plans for his daughter’s birthday, so treat it with all importance.”

The BBB is warning all job seekers to be cautious when looking for employment online. In the situation with the Louisville woman, the “employer” displayed the most commonly used tactic in online employment scams.

The payment-forwarding/payment-transfer/fake check scams. In this scenario, the scammer pretends to be an employer and sends a fake check to the employee. Like the Louisville woman, the employee is asked to cash the check, keep part of the money as payment, and forward or transfer the money through Western Union. Later, the employee finds out the check was fake and owes the bank the money. Often, in this scam, the employer uses ploys to request the job seeker's bank account information. They may tell job seekers it's needed to deliver their pay check by "direct deposit."

The BBB warns of other commonly used schemes that scammers are using in online employment scams:

The Personal Invitation - These are often ploys to garner personal data. The sender claims to have seen your resume on the Internet, notes that your skills match the requirements for their job, and invites you to complete an online job application.

The ID verification scenario - If a company requests information on, or copies of your driver's license, passport, bank account or credit card numbers, mother's maiden name, or your Social Security number to "verify" your identity during the interview/application process, you could be at risk for identity theft. Legitimate companies do not request this information prior to an interview.

The inside scoop on Federal jobs. All federal government positions are publicly announced and federal agencies never charge application fees or guarantee that an applicant will be hired. Avoid websites that promise, possibly for a fee, to give you the inside scoop on how to get a Federal or Postal Service job.

Opportunities abroad. Tempting, but only exploit a person's desires and provide no real opportunities in exchange for money or personal information. Legitimate businesses will not ask for money up front; use post office boxes, instead of office addresses; make promises of employment and guarantees of refunds; or charge fees for giving you a job lead.

The Better Business Bureau encourages checking a company’s Reliability Report and complaint record for free at www.bbb.org before sending any money or personal information when seeking employment. There are a variety of free and low-cost resources available to help you in your job search, including local and state government job service offices, libraries, universities and community colleges.

For additional information on how to protect yourself from online scams, visit www.bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.