An employment scam generally involves the providing of fraudulent employment search services. Due to recent economic conditions, many fraudulent or bogus employment operations have increased significantly, with many victims losing their money to scams. Many employment scams involve a fake, non-registered “employment agency” that is operating without authorization.

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 employees may have a hard time telling the difference between scams and genuine job offers. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with warning signs to protect yourself during your job search.

Some common types of employment scams or “job scams” may include:

  • Charging service fees for common knowledge that can be obtained for free from other sources (such as the internet or phone book)
  • Charging fees for supposedly “connecting” the client with an employer or job that doesn’t really exist
  • Various “work from home” schemes are in circulation on the internet through ads and social networking websites
  • Federal job scams involve the victim calling a toll-free number supposedly linked with federal job opportunities. These are also called postal job scams.

In addition, many employment scams exist solely to obtain personal information from the victim.

For example, the agent representative may request that the victim fill out a form and provide them with information like their name, date of birth, social security number, bank account numbers, etc. The agency may then use the person’s information for identity theft, to access their bank accounts and other types of violations.

What are the Warning Signs of Employment Scams?

The following are some tip-offs that a job offer may be fake.

  • It seems too good to be true. If you didn’t contact the employer, and they contacted you, 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 scenarios like these, fake employers will often offer you a job right away or entice you by saying that they want to interview you as a finalist for a job.
  • The pay is much higher than typical for the job. If a work-from-home position offers pay at a much higher rate than competitors or offers unusual or extremely flexible work hours, you may be witnessing a scam.
    The company address is suspicious. Be wary if the company does not say what you will be doing or where, or if the company address is in another state or country.
  • Vague job requirements and job description. Scammers often make emails sound believable by listing job requirements. However, those requirements are usually so simple that almost anyone may qualify. Fake job requirements don’t mention years of education or experience. If a job is real, the requirements will likely be 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. Keep your guard up if an email contains lots of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes.
  • Online interviews via messaging services or apps. Many attempted scams may attempt to interview you 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 you for confidential information. Research the company and its representatives before you agree to take part in an online interview. If you do agree to do an online interview, ask detailed, specific questions about your employment during the interview. Do not include any confidential information such as your bank account, credit cards, or Social Security number.
  • Emails don’t include any contact information. If the emails don’t include any company information, such as an address or phone number, there’s a good chance the company is fake. Watch out for interviewers who make excuses for using personal email addresses, saying that company servers are down, etc.

If the search results don’t add up, don’t agree to do 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 you can’t find any info at all, the company is likely a scam. If you’re asked for bank account information to set up a direct deposit or ask you to open a new bank account to provide information to them, immediately cut off contact.

What Can I Do To Avoid An Employment Scam?

You must protect yourself 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 your own research- many people lose money and information by purchasing brochures, books, or documents that can be found for free elsewhere
  • Ask to verify the credentials and licenses of any employment agency you choose to work with
  • Don’t provide your personal information to untrustworthy organizations or people, especially those that have contacted you online.
  • If you’re applying for a federal job, apply only at their website, which should have a section for applications.
  • Don’t call toll-free numbers or supply information to a bogus website.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t pay a fee if you aren’t sure that the services will generate good job search leads. Oftentimes, you don’t have to pay until after the job search process is over and you’re already hired. Don’t pay upfront for questionable services.

What if an Employment Scam has Victimized Me?

One of the problems with employment scams is actually getting hold of the liable party. This is especially true of sham companies that have reached you through an online advertisement, through email, or through the use of 1-900 toll-free phone numbers. Such companies may be operating overseas or simply dissolve once their fraudulent activities are discovered.

Thus, whenever you work with an employment agency, be sure to record their important information such as their business address, license operating number, and phone number. Be sure to keep copies of any receipts or invoices you’ve received.

In some cases, it may be possible to file a claim against the liable party in a court of law. You may be able to receive a monetary damages award to compensate you for your losses. If you’ve paid money for false information or fake services, it may be possible to have the fees returned to you.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving an Employment Scam?

Employment scams can present many different legal issues and can be very frustrating to deal with. If you need assistance or have any questions regarding employment scams, you may wish to contact a qualified contract lawyer in your area. Your attorney can go over 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.