Summer’s almost here, and as scores of high school and post-secondary students rush into the job market, the risk of applying for a bogus job are heightened. Seasonal work provides students with a limited window of opportunity to work and save up some money for the rest of the year, so while you may be in ‘gotta get a job’ panic mode, fraudulent employers are also looking at how they can scam you. So don’t risk squandering your summer break when even just a little bit of homework can save you a lot of time, annoyance and money.
Our best tip is to work for an organization or business you (or your family/friends) otherwise know, support or frequent. Since this is not always possible, keep an eye out for these ‘red flag’ job descriptions that have made it into the news recently. Note as well that these job titles may lead you to legitimate jobs, so make good use of your search engine, email and phone, to dig a little deeper. For example, Google the company name and “scam”; this could lead you into some interesting directions.
Here are the top employment scams to watch for this job-hunting season:
• Mystery Shopper or ‘Follow the Bouncing Cheque’: The job might be to test the services of a cheque-cashing or a money transfer company. The offer usually contains a fraudulent cheque along with instructions for you to cash the cheque and transfer a portion of the sum over a money transfer service to the name provided and ‘keep the rest’. When the cheque is discovered to be fraudulent, victims are held accountable for the entire amount. There are many versions of this, including Movie Reviewer, Writer, etc. that involve receiving large sums, then returning all or part of that amount, followed by a bouncing cheque and grief.
• Envelope Stuffer: This may sound like an easy job, but you could be asked to spend your own money on advertising material, postage, even the envelopes themselves. Remember, you may be asked to ‘pay to play’, but being asked to ‘pay to work’ is a red flag.
• Product Assembler: Training videos for these projects are either incomplete or make the job seem easier than it really is. Some craft assembly companies require an up-front training fee, which could be a warning sign.
• Data Enterer, Timesheet Filler, Medical Biller or Coupon Clipper: Promising high wages for simple data entry is a red flag. Legitimate job postings will hire for administrative professionals, secretaries or typists. You may be required to purchase special software to perform these tasks from home, only to find out the software program is loaded with glitches, and may require extra funds on your part to fix them Be wary of get rich quick offers and obvious pyramid schemes.
Here are some tips to help you avoid these scam jobs:
• If it’s too-good-to-be-true, it likely is. If you are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it could be a scam. If an employer offers you a lot of money for simple work or to work at home, it is most likely too-good-to-be-true.
• Get it in writing. If the employer does not provide you with the details of the job in writing, be wary. A written offer or contract should clearly outline the responsibilities, qualifications as well as the specific terms and conditions.
• Research the business. If the employer does not provide you with the business’ location and contact information and you cannot find it on their website, consider it a red flag. Google it.
• Do not hand over money or personal information before you’re hired. If the employer requires fees for training, background checks or drug tests, it could be a scam. Remember you will not be asked to pay for a job.