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That great-sounding remote job posting is probably a scam

Fraudsters are cashing in on employee reluctance to return to the office

Photo (c) EMS Forester Productioins - Getty Images
After nearly two years of remote work, companies are beginning to require employees to return to the office. Scammers have begun targeting those who long to keep working from home.

Allstate Identity Protection’s Identity Fraud in Focus quarterly report found that 17% of adults have either seen job postings or were actually contacted about remote jobs that just didn’t pass the smell test. A survey of 2,200 American adults also found that workers between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most targeted.

Scammers almost always look for new opportunities. With surveys showing many employees would rather keep working from home than resume the daily commute, bad actors are busy making up dream jobs that can be done from home. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has counted nearly 21,600 fake business and job opportunities in just the second quarter of 2022. The estimated losses reached $86 million.

Red flags

So how can you identify one of these fake job offers?

“A fraudster may pretend to be from a reputable company and set up a phony interview over instant message,” says Doug Kaplan, senior vice president of operations at Allstate Identity Protection. “A job seeker can be offered a position on the spot and asked to pay for work-related supplies upfront. Once a victim sends the money, it’s gone forever.”

In that scenario, there are three distinct red flags:

  • Legitimate businesses don’t conduct job interviews by instant message

  • Legitimate businesses almost never hire someone on the spot without considering other candidates

  • Legitimate businesses don’t ask new employees to pay for work-related supplies before they even start

Identity theft

Fake job posting scams are also fertile ground for identity theft. It’s not unusual for a new employer to gather some personal information on new employees, including their Social Security number.

A fake employer can use a victim’s personal data to apply for a credit card or take out a loan. A victim might not know their identity has been stolen until the past due notices start rolling in.

Criminals can also use stolen personal information to file for disability benefits in the scam victim’s name. Allstate says cases of disability fraud were up 85% year-over-year in the second quarter.

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