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Job listing scams are on the rise this summer, FTC says

Officials are telling consumers not to pay for the promise of a new job

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Photo (c) Constantine Johnny - Getty Images
When is a job listing not a job listing? When a scammer wants to trick someone into sending them personal information or money to get the job.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says scammers are using the names of well-known employers to post job openings that don’t even exist. But with more than 11 million job openings in the U.S., the phony postings are hard to pass up -- especially since some of them offer decent pay, telework options, and money to set up a home office. 

The FTC gave an example of how these job posting scams work. First, the so-called employer gets your information and sends you a check for, say, $4,000. Once the check is deposited into your account, the scammer may tell you to keep $1,000 as a salary advance and ask you to send back $3,000 — supposedly to buy the applicant a computer and office equipment.

“But the job and the equipment never appear. And sadly, when the bank realizes the check is fake, you’re out of the job and now $3,000 in debt,” the agency said.

Job scams flourish during the summer

It’s not quite up there with cryptocurrency and online purchase scams, but job scams are the third-riskiest consumer scam, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, the organization says this kind of fraud will likely increase because 30% of all job scams happen during the summer months.

The FTC says job applicants can avoid job scams by doing four things:

  • Verify job openings before you apply. Visit the official website for the organization or company you’re applying for. Most include a “career opportunities” or “jobs” section.

  • See what others are saying. Look up the name of the company along with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” The results may include the experiences of others who have lost money.

  • Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does so is a scammer.

  • Never deposit a check from someone you don’t know. An honest employer will never send you a check and then tell you to send them part of the money. That’s a fake check scam.

“If you paid a scammer, call the company you used to pay right away (the gift card or money transfer company, for example). Ask them to reverse the charge,” the FTC advises. The agency suggests that job applicants also take a look at the agency's publication What to Do If You Were Scammed.

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