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How to spot a job scam – no matter how sophisticated

If you are applying to jobs online, constantly research before accepting an interview or employment offer. Job scammers have gotten very sophisticated, convincingly claiming to represent real employers, requiring interviews, and even providing phony offer letters. These cunning new twists on traditional job scams have increased in BBB’s Scam Tracker. In fact, according to BBB’s latest Scam Tracker Risk Report, employment scams climbed to the second most risky scam type – after online purchases.

How this scam works

You apply online through a reputable, third-party job-seeking site. A few days or weeks later, you get a text message or email asking if you are still interested in the position or a similar one at the same company. Since you made your contact information available to your potential employer when applying, the message doesn’t strike you as unusual.

If you reply to the message, the scammer will invite you to interview for the job. This is when red flags start to appear. Instead of doing a traditional interview, the “employer” asks you to download a messaging app and answer a few questions via text. Then, you’re offered the position on the spot, with great pay and benefits. Your new “employer” may even send you a convincing offer letter. After your “job offer,” the phony employer asks you to complete a form with your personal and banking information, claiming they need it for direct deposit. In other cases, the scammer may ask you to set up a home office, either with your funds or money they’ll send you in a (fake) check.

If you send money or share your personal details, it will now be in the hands of scammers. You’ll unlikely get your money back, and your shared personal information puts you at risk of identity theft.

How to avoid similar scams:

• Research the person who contacted you. If you suspect the person contacting you could be a scammer, look them up. A quick online search should reveal if they work for the company they claim to represent.

• Do more research on the company. You may have done this before you applied for the position. Still, if you get a surprise offer to interview, it’s worth doing more research to learn more about their hiring process, home office requirements, salaries, and benefits packages. If these don’t align with your offer, you could be dealing with a scammer.

• Don’t fall for jobs that seem too good to be true. They probably are. If you are offered a job - without a formal interview - that has excellent pay and benefits, it’s likely a scam.

• See the full article on BBB. org for more tips.