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FTC offers tips on avoiding job scams

Scammers promise a job, but they only want your money and personal information

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Photo (c) Bill Hinton - Getty Images
On the heels of a year in which many consumers lost their job, the Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers not to fall for job scams as they try to get back on their feet. The agency is warning that scammers are actively posting advertisements online or in print for a variety of jobs, including “work-at-home” jobs. Some of them might even look legitimate. 

“They sometimes even pretend to represent well-known companies or the government,” the FTC said. “But these ads are really just tricks to get your money or personal information.” 

Here’s how job-seekers can protect themselves from these types of scams, according to the FTC: 

  • Be wary of “guaranteed” jobs. Even if your qualifications are ideal, it’s never guaranteed that you’ll get a job. The FTC recommends never responding to ads claiming you’ll be guaranteed a position. 

  • Steer clear of work-at-home ads promising big money. Scammers often claim to have jobs where you can make thousands of dollars per month working from home with little time and effort. However, no one can predict how much money you’ll actually make at a job working for yourself. 

  • Don’t pay to get a job. Scammers may promise that they have a job for you in exchange for a fee that will go towards certification, training, equipment, or supplies. But after you pay the fee, you’re highly likely to discover that the job is fake and you won’t be seeing your money again. 

  • Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will send you a check and then tell you to send on part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. This is known as a fake check scam, and you’ll lose your money. 

  • Don’t fall for ads touting “previously undisclosed” government jobs. Information about federal jobs is publicly available at usajobs.gov.

  • Research potential employers. For extra assurance that the job is real, research potential employers by checking out the company’s website or by contacting them via phone or email.

The FTC says consumers can browse legitimate job listings on sites like their state’s Career OneStop. This site also links to employment and training programs in each state.

To report a suspected scam, consumers can file a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission. Doing so can help the agency crack down on these schemes.

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