Employment Scams and Tips to Avoid Being a Victim

We could all use a little more cash every holiday season so that we can gift our friends and family like they deserve. A great way to do this is to supplement our income by picking up some part-time seasonal work. Before picking up that side job, make sure it's legit by checking out some tips provided by the LAPD.

Poorly written descriptions

Typically a fake job posting will look as if written by a child. There will be spelling and grammatical errors, very vague language and strange performance expectations or promises. Another sign will be that their logo and graphics look unprofessional or cheap, steer clear.

Asking for payment 

If an employer or recruiter asks for any money or fee upfront, RUN! This is a definitely red flag...on fire. Some 'fees' may include paying for a background check, a drug test, credit check, training and uniforms, supplies or certifications, or anything else that should be paid for by the employer. Typically, after the employee pays for these 'services' they're told that they did not get the job or communication ends completely. 

High pressure offers 

Being contacted by employers you did not apply to, anyone who is in a rush sign you up or invest in their 'opportunity' (refer to #2) is a common employment scam. Legitimate employees will never give you a sales pitch and ask for money.

Getting paid in advance

The fake check scam crosses lanes and moves over to those most in need of their extra money, job hunters. The employer/scammer sends you a check and asks you to deposit the funds into your account. Then you're expected to forward a portion of it back to them or even someone else, unrelated. As it turns out, that check was a fake and not only does your bank hold you responsible for all funds deposited and the fees associated with the bounce, you may face check fraud charges.

Getting hired without an interview

If getting hired without having to go through an interview seems too good to be true, well, it probably is. A newer scam is to go straight through to a job offer without ever having a in person or phone interview. More red flags related to this are that communication with the employer is exclusively done through text or emails and can occur outside of normal business hours. Always check their email address too, a scammer will likely be using an email address that isn't associated with the business, anything that is an @gmail, @hotmail, or similar type of address is a bad sign. If someone does contact you by phone, it's a good practice to do a phone number search online and see if it originates from a business. 

Scammers, grifters, and frauds are very creative and persistent, protect yourself and know how to avoid being the victim of employment and other types of scams. 

  1. Research the company – always make sure that a job is real before applying for it. Scammers love to use social media, networking sites, and job sites to find their targets. Conducts a simple Google search and try to get some information about the company before giving them your personal information. If a search doesn't identify their social media, location, or owner – DO NOT APPLY.  

  1. Get a complete, written job description – When speaking to the employer or recruiter, ask for a full written job description. If they refuse or don't get around to it, do not accept the job. If you find a posting from a company that is well known and reputable, double check their website to make sure it is authentic. Scammers will often piggyback on the good names of established companies to scam people looking for jobs and lure them into providing sensitive information to a company they trust.  

  1. Protect your money – employers will not ask applicants to pay for any background checks, credit reports, or any other fees. Never wire payments, send gift cards, or cash to people you don't know.  

  1. Keep your personal information safe- never give out your social security number, birth date, driver's license number, or banking information until you are certain that the job offer is legitimate and only until you have been given a written offer. 

  1. Trust your instincts – if something is too good to be true, it probably is. The same goes for something that may feel wrong, it probably is.  

 Thank you to the LAPD and the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. 

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