Since the start of COVID-19, we’ve heard a lot about the “Great Resignation” and a massive job churn that has some employers scrambling to find workers.
But as the Deseret News previously reported, many experts instead couch the turnover as a massive opportunity for workers to trade up to better jobs.
A Pew Research Center study said most workers who quit were reacting to low pay, limited opportunity for advancement and a demoralizing sense they weren’t being appreciated at work. As the Deseret News said of that study’s findings, “Most didn’t quit working entirely; they just quit their employers. Many quitters traded up for better benefits, better pay and more flexibility, Pew found.”
If you’re among the job seekers, the Federal Trade Commission recently issued a consumer alert that says scammers are paying attention to the job market, too. And they’re trying to hurt you.
The commission warns that fraudsters are pretending to be well-known employers, then posting jobs that are not real. The goal — and this is familiar territory with scammers — is to get personal information or money.
The jobs they post, the agency warns, pay well, promise that you can work remotely and often offer to provide money to set up a nice home office. That’s where the scam begins. They send you a check to get you started on your work. Once the check clears, they tell you to send back part of the money, which they’ll use to buy a computer and office equipment.
But the money isn’t real and neither is the job. What is real, however, is the bank’s discovery that the check is fake.
The Better Business Bureau has been warning of pandemic-related job scams for months and estimates that early in the pandemic, there were 14 million victims with $2 billion in direct losses related to job “opportunities” that weren’t opportunities at all.
Some of them are old but got worse in the pandemic. And according to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center, employment scams from 2018 to 2020 increased by nearly 30%.
Identity theft is a particular target for scammers. To get a job, one provides a Social Security number, often a bank account for direct deposit and all kinds of personal, identifying information, including a birthdate and legal name. The bureau said 34% of victims provided their driver’s license number and 25% provided their Social Security number when asked by a scammer.
Shipping scams are also out there, According to the bureau’s “scam tracker,” fraudsters “hire” victims from job boards or social media and pay them to receive and then send on packages. “These fraudsters often use stolen credit card numbers to order laptops, cellphones and high-end goods and have them sent to reshipping victims. Those people are asked to repackage the items and forward them to a new address. They are not paid and their identities can be used to open new bank accounts.
To avoid job scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission:
- Verify job openings before you apply. It’s simple to look at career opportunities or a jobs listing on a company’s website.
- Look up the company’s name, along with words like “scam,” “review” or “complaint.” You may find experiences that shed light on the scam.
- Never pay for a job. No legitimate employer is going to ask you for money. And why would a company ever ask for gift cards?
- Never deposit a check from a stranger. That’s not how legitimate companies do business.
- If you get tricked, call the company you used to make the payment and ask them to reverse the charge.
The Better Business Bureau suggests looking up companies advertising jobs at bbb.org. If it knows of a related scam, the bureau will outline it, which could help job seekers recognize problems.
It also says to be leery of secret shopper jobs or anything that involves receiving and forwarding things, whether money or goods.
And never provide your personal information in your resume or to an unverified job recruiter or online application.