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10 Common Scams Every Job Seeker Should Know

February 23rd, 2011

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In a tough job market, it's easy to get desperate. But don't get so hard up that you forget to pay attention to what you're doing. If you're not careful, you could end up falling prey to one of these job search scams. Read on to learn about how these scams work, and how you can avoid them.

  1. Package forwarding: Jobs that advertise package handling or forwarding are often cons that can hurt in two ways. First, by taking your money, and then, possibly getting you into legal trouble. You'll receive packages typically containing stolen goods, send them out with your own money, and possibly receive a visit from the police about receiving stolen goods at your address.
  2. Identity theft: Jobs often get sensitive information from employees, and many ask for this information before you're even hired. But you should be careful about what you give out. Some scammers will check out your online resume to call as a prospective employer, then ask you for your Social Security number and other personal information that can be used to steal your identity. You should be careful to only share sensitive information once you're further along into the application process.
  3. Work at home scams: Although there are many legitimate ways to work at home, work at home opportunities are often scams. You may be asked to assemble crafts or stuff envelopes, but you'll have to buy a starter kit first, and end up not actually being able to sell anything. Others send you a list of companies looking for home workers, or potential clients that are outdated or wrong. Still others will have you duping others with the same ad that you fell for to get the "job."
  4. Email job offers: You probably won't remember applying for the job that's emailed to you, but they are very, very interested in hiring you. Of course, you'll need to send them your Social Security number and other personal information, which they'll use to steal your identity. Make sure that you're getting emails from a legitimate company that actually wants to hire you.
  5. Federal job scams: Information about job openings in the government or postal service is free and easily available, and applying for one is free, too. But scam artists often advertise to help job seekers find positions within the government, and they charge for this service. They may tell you that you have to pay for study materials that will help you pass the exam required to get the job. The truth is, there may not even be a job available in your area, and their materials may be worthless.
  6. Fake search sites: Bogus websites may look professional, but they're just trying to gather your personal information. In order to register as a job seeker and see job postings, you'll have to share sensitive information that will be used to steal your identity.
  7. Money processing: Money processing jobs are typically designed to turn you into a money mule. As a money mule, you'll transfer stolen money or merchandise. Of course, you won't be told that what you're moving is stolen. They're advertised as "payment processing," "local processing," or "money transfer agents," and they're all scams.
  8. Job search assistants and services: These scams offer help finding a job, especially in a tough market. They're not out to help you-they are just after your personal information.
  9. Legitimate employers that aren't: Scammers may post jobs on a website claiming to be a legitimate employer, using corporate identity theft. They're posting bogus jobs that aren't related to the employer, and they're using them to get you to share information they can use to steal your identity.
  10. Direct recruiters: "Direct recruiters" may call you up, offering to help you find a job. Don't give them your personal information-ask them for their name and business number, and then look online to find out if there are any scams affiliated with them.

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