Fake job ads steal applicants’ money and identities

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Lisa Miner thought she’d found the perfect new job: Earlier this year, a dialysis technician received an offer to be an app developer for CVS Health after passing a skills test administered by an alleged recruit who reached through a personal Gmail account. But the job wasn’t just fake – it was a ploy to steal her money.

The miner’s quick setup process is charted next The supposed recruiter told her that the company planned to send a certified check for $3,500 to spend with a certain vendor for her work supplies—a process that seemed odd. Instead of immediately ordering her supplies when the check arrived, as it had been given to her, Miner waited to see if the check would clear with her bank before spending any of her own money. It didn’t, validating the miner’s fear: She was dealing with an imposter.

Fortunately for Meiner, who lives in Dallas, Georgia, she wasn’t able to get her boss to quit — otherwise, she would be out of a job.

“How could I really be so stupid?” She remembers asking herself. “I was being hard on myself more than anything else.”

Miner, who has applied to job postings on job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and made posts about her job search, has a company. Experts say scammers target job seekers, which is a group It’s growing as companies across industries continue to lay off people, and they’re especially going after those seeking remote jobs. Scammers post fake job openings on websites and pretend to be a recruiter in an attempt to steal everything from passwords to money and identities.

“Job scammers try to exploit people’s desire to be flexible,” said Sinem Popper, chief economist at job search engine ZipRecruiter. “It’s prime time because of that.”

Job sites like ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and Indeed say they’re trying To weed out fake job listings and employers, though, scammers are getting more sophisticated. These sites also offer Tools for reporting suspicious content in case a scam bypasses its checks. Many job seekers are still posting their horror stories on social media.

But experts say that if you’re looking for a job, even if it’s far away, don’t worry. There are steps you can take to avoid scams and get the truth gig.

“The majority will be legitimate,” said Stacy Perkins, a leadership and career coach at staffing firm Korn Ferry. “You have to be careful.”

Miner reported the fraudster to the FBI, but she has not received a response from the fraudster or the FBI since. CVS Health advises job seekers to check the company’s career website to make sure the posting is genuine. The company also said it would never ask job candidates to join a Google Hangout, buy their own equipment, or pay to apply. And you will never send emails from a third party email service like Yahoo or Gmail.

Here are 12 ways you can avoid falling for a scam, according to job experts.

Avoid opportunities that promote easy money. Perkins and Popper agreed that if it was too good to be true, it probably is. Job scams often result in little work for big paychecks. They often claim that they are not a scam. “If they have to say so [they are legitimate]Perkins said.

Get job details. Legitimate jobs will explain the duties of the specific job, often on a list. Be wary of jobs that require you to pick something up, repackage it, and send it to a new location, especially if you don’t know the details. Popper said scammers may promote gift-wrapping jobs during the holidays. But you can trade in illegal substances.

Watch spelling and grammar. If a post or outreach is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, experts agree it’s probably a scam. The typo might just be a typo, but if the The message is hard to read or full of obvious errors, go ahead. Also, watch for one-letter differences in a company name, email, or web address, Perkins said.

Find the company. Popper said most companies have a web presence. Check the company’s website, and see if it has a LinkedIn account, social media profile, or comments on the employee review site Glassdoor, the experts advise. Can you communicate with others who work there? Can you find an address for its headquarters? Does it really exist?

Check trusted sources. The Federal Trade Commission can provide details about cases brought against companies. The Better Business Bureau certifies companies it deems trustworthy. Popper said a quick search can save you a headache later.

Look at the sender’s email address and profile. The recruiter or hiring manager should always communicate with you via their company email account, and not on personal Gmail or text messages, for example. So make sure when replying or writing emails, that the address matches the company’s web domain, Perkins said. If they are reaching out to you on social media, do they have contacts or posts? Do they interact with others? How much time?

Pay attention to the process. Perkins said companies should be able to clarify their hiring process. If the company is eager to hire quickly and responses come in within minutes, these can be red flags, actually caution. LinkedIn says employers rarely hire after a single remote interview, and in fact it said this is especially true if the interview is via a text messaging service. Most employers will connect you with several people before you get the job.

Don’t pay for anything. If an employer asks you to pay for materials, training or testing, even if it offers compensation, Perkins said, the job is likely a scam. Popper said scammers send victims a bogus check and ask them to pay for something or claim they need some back because of a mistake. The scammers can then steal the money by cashing a valid check or payment to the victims before the fake check bounces. Popper said scammers can also use you as a money mule, asking you to deposit a valid check and send the same amount elsewhere.

Protect your personal information. While applying, don’t provide your Social Security number, ID or passport photos, or any financial details, such as your bank account or credit card number, experts say. “They need your contact information, and that’s it,” Perkins said.

Get all questions answered. Go to each interview with questions, and be sure to answer them. Real employers will see this as a favor, Popper said, and fake employers will panic or avoid answering.

Watch pyramid charts. Don’t fall for paycheck-only job opportunities if you entice more people into the process, Perkins said. Some MLM companies are legitimate, but many are pyramid schemes.

Trust your instincts. Experts say that if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably is. So keep moving. “There are 1.7 jobs available for every person who is currently unemployed,” Popper said. “You will find something.”

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