An employment scam generally involves the providing of fraudulent employment search services or fraudulent promises of prospective employment. Fraudulent or bogus employment operations increase during times when unemployment is high, and many victims lose their money to scams. Many employment scams involve a fake, unlicensed “employment agency” that is not a legitimate operation offering to find a person a job.
The Better Business Bureau says that about 14 million people are victims of employment scams every year. People who are unfamiliar with job scams are the ones most likely to lose money to them. In 2020 alone, the Better Business Bureau reported that employment scams cost victims an estimated $2 billion.
Even experienced workers may have a hard time telling the difference between fake job postings and genuine job offers. It is wise for a person to become familiar with the warning signs that a scam is afoot.
Some common types of employment scams may include:
- Charging fees for common knowledge that can be easily obtained for free from other sources;
- Charging fees for supposedly “connecting” the client with employers or jobs that do not, in fact, exist;
- Information about various “work from home” schemes is in circulation on the internet through ads and social networking websites when no real job is available;
- Federal job scams involve the victim calling a toll-free number supposedly linked with federal job opportunities that are scams. These are also called postal job scams.
Many employment scams exist solely to obtain personal information from the victim for the purposes of identity theft.
For example, the agent representative may request that the victim fill out a form and provide them with information such as their name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, or even bank account numbers, etc. The agency may then use the person’s information for identity theft, access to their bank accounts, and other types of crimes.
What Can I Do to Avoid an Employment Scam?
The following are some tips for avoiding employment scams:
- It Sounds Too Good to Be True: As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Applying for most jobs is competitive for most of us. Unless a person applies for a position as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or some similarly exclusive job, they have to compete with many other candidates.
- If a prospective employer suggests that a person is a top candidate for a job for which the person has not even applied, it is a scam;
- An Unsolicited Employer Contacts a Person: If a person does not contact the employer, but the prospective employer contacts them, the job offer may be a scam. According to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, over 80% of all victims reported that the scammer initiated contact with them through a job board or social media.
- In these scenarios, fake employers will often offer a person a job right away or entice them by saying that they want to interview the person as a finalist for a job before there has been any other contact;
- Higher Pay Than Is Typical: If the pay is much higher than typical for the type of job, a person may be looking at a scam;
- Suspicious Address: If the company address is suspicious, it suggests a scam. A person should be wary if the company does not say exactly what a person would be doing or where, if the company address is in another state or country, or if no address is given;
- Vague Qualifications. Scammers often make emails sound believable by listing job qualifications. However, those qualifications are usually so minimal that almost anyone may qualify. Fake job requirements do not mention years of education or experience. If a job is real, the qualifications are quite specific;
- Unprofessional Emails. Job scam emails usually do not include clear job descriptions. If an email is not well-written, be cautious. Real companies hire professionals who write and communicate well. A person should be skeptical that email contains lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes;
- Online Interviews via Messaging Services or Apps. Many scammers may attempt to interview a person online using instant messaging services. Scammers often include instructions for setting up the interview and contacting a hiring manager. The hiring manager may then ask the person for confidential information. A person should always research the company before agreeing to take part in an online interview.
- If a person does an online interview, they should ask detailed, specific questions about their possible employment and never give out confidential information of any kind;
- Emails Do Not Include Any Contact Information. If the emails do not include any company information, such as an address or phone number, this is a sign of a scam. A person should also watch for interviewers who make excuses for using personal email addresses, saying that company servers are down, or the like.
If the search results do not add up, do not agree to an interview. A real company should be easily located via online searches. Finding information about a company does not guarantee that it is legitimate, but if a person cannot find any information at all, the company is likely a scam.
A person should absolutely not give anyone any personal information at all, including social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account information, or even a driver’s license number. If a person is asked for any such information, they should immediately cut off contact.
How Can I Avoid Being Victimized by an Employment Scam?
A person needs to protect themselves when dealing with an employment agency or when applying for a job. There are several steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of an employment scam:
- Do the Research: A person should always research a prospective employer when they apply for a job. In addition to helping the person identify possible scams, it helps them prepare good questions and answers for the interview;
- Employment Agencies: A person should check the credentials and licenses of any employment agency they choose to work with or work with one they already know to be reputable;
- Never Give Out Information: A person should never provide personal information to companies or people who have contacted a person online;
- Federal Employment: The federal government has a very specific application process. A person has to register to access the system online. A person might want to seek out information about how to apply to the federal government for jobs before they get started.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a person should not pay a fee if they are not sure that an agency will generate good job search leads. In fact, a person should have a written contract if they hire an agency to help them find a job. Some agencies do not collect a fee until after the job search process is over and the client has been hired.
What if I Have Been Victimized by an Employment Scam?
One of the problems with employment scams is actually identifying and locating the liable party. This is especially true of sham companies that have reached a person through an online advertisement, email, or the use of 1-900 toll-free phone numbers. Such companies may be operating overseas. They may simply dissolve once their fraudulent activities are discovered.
Thus, whenever a person works with an employment agency, they want to record important information about the agency, such as their business address, license operating number, and phone number. Be sure to keep copies of any receipts or invoices received or contracts signed.
In some cases, it may be possible to file a claim against the liable party in a court of law. A person may be able to receive an award of monetary damages to compensate them for their losses. If a person paid money for false information or fake services, it may be possible to get the fees back.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving an Employment Scam?
Employment scams can prove frustrating to deal with. If you need assistance or have any questions regarding employment scams, you want to consult a qualified employment lawyer in your area.
Your employment fraud attorney can review the facts of your situation with you to help you determine your legal options. You may be entitled to a damages award for your losses. Use LegalMatch’s services today to schedule a free consultation.