As many Nevadans pursue new job opportunities during the pandemic, scams related to job seekers are on the rise. These scams can take many forms. In addition to traditional methods such as flyers, posters and advertisements, scams targeting job seekers can originate from multiple platforms, including fake websites, unsolicited emails, social media, messaging services, robocalls, Craigslist and pop-up advertisements.
Scammers are looking to steal your identity or money and might even be trying to involve you in a criminal enterprise.
“While so many Nevadans are faced with layoffs and looking for new opportunities, unscrupulous scammers are finding new ways to capitalize on these uncertain times,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said. “I would like every Nevadan to know they can look to my office for help and should try to educate themselves about these scams to stop fraudsters in their tracks.”
There are numerous types of scams related to looking for a job.
In a reshipping scam, a fake recruiter pretends to represent a logistics, shipping or transport company. The “job duties” for the position usually includes receiving packages at home for inspection or repacking and shipment. The scammer might also provide preprinted labels. Often, the package will be shipped overseas.
Unbeknownst to the target of this scam, it typically involves the shipping of stolen or counterfeit goods. Generally, the person who accepts this job scam is not paid for their work and sometimes pays for the shipping themselves. Eventually, the scam company stops communicating with the consumer, but only after the consumer has lost money and potentially at risk for criminal prosecution.
Then there is the virtual assistant scam. This scam offers consumers the opportunity to do work-at-home data entry or virtual administrative assistant work. While there are legitimate job opportunities for this type of work, a scammer posing as offering this work might ask you to pay fees, buy materials, make payments on their behalf or give your personal information.
An office set-up scam is when an employer claims to be from a company based overseas looking to open an office or hire staff in the United States. Typically, the consumer receives a fake check that is supposed to be used for set-up expenses. The “employer” encourages the consumer to deposit the money and start making purchases for the office and have the supplies, such as laptops and other electronics, shipped to another address.
The check eventually bounces, leaving the consumer stuck with the bill. A variation on this scam requires that the consumer use his or her own card to make purchases that are never reimbursed.
While the above examples represent recent job-seeking scams, scammers might still run the classic job scams of envelope stuffing, mystery shopping, online survey scams and pyramid schemes.
Be cautious if someone offers you a job for which you have not applied or conducted an interview. Be wary if the job advertisement offers high pay for simple work. This is usually a sign of a scam.
Avoid paying a fee or making a purchase to get work. These fees can include enrollment fees, employment screening fees, training fees and the cost of purchasing of materials or shipping items.
Be skeptical of requests for personal or financial information, particularly if the potential employer or recruiter asks for your Social Security number, bank account number or other personal information prior to conducting an interview or making a formal job offer. While employees often must supply some of this information, do your homework to make sure the company is legitimate before providing it.
Research others’ experiences with the company. Try searching for the company online. When speaking to a recruiter, ask enough questions so that you feel comfortable with the job opportunity. Check the company’s web page, and if you receive an email, look at the domain address to see if matches the web page. Be wary if there are any differences or if you can’t find any reviews of the company’s web page.
If you believe you have been a victim of job scams, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General or with the Federal Trade Commission. You may also call the office’s hotline toll-free at 888-434-9989.