Job Scams on the Rise

Here are some insights and smart tips from a reader who is navigating life after being laid off – and wanted to share what s/he is seeing.

With the increasing unemployment rate comes the proliferation of new scams.

Nearly every day, I receive emails from people in various countries around the world with similarly strange “offers”.

For example – after posting my resume online at the usual outlets, one gentleman claimed to be representing a ‘client’ who wanted information about an industry I am very familiar with. He asked if I could make a determination about hedge funds. First – I don’t analyze hedge funds and second, it was difficult to understand the man on the phone who claimed he was calling from India. I told him that I would like to do some research and call him back. He informed me that I couldn’t call him back (he was “in India”), but I could call his colleague in South America.

Right….

My concern is that there are people who are in a state of desperation and they will pursue opportunities that aren’t real or safe.

The Better Business Bureau is warning that bogus work-at-home scams are much more prevalent now. Some of the schemes involve innocent people in criminal activities without their knowledge.

At the same time, own-your-own-business scams are spreading. Disguised under other titles, many of them are really pyramid schemes, chain letters and multi-level marketing. Officials at the Federal Trade Commission warn that if you earn commissions primarily by recruiting others and not by selling goods or services, the enterprise is probably illegal. In 2007, the FTC reported nearly 3,100 complaints about this type of scam and they predict the number will be higher for 2008.

From the experts, words of caution:

  • Never, for any reason, give your social security number, date of birth or bank-account number unless you know for certain that they are going to be used for something legitimate such as applying for a mortgage. These pieces of information won’t come into play in a job search until you are hired at a legitimate company and are completing the required new-hire paperwork.
  • Do not give any personal information that could be used for identity theft or to link you to criminal activity without your knowledge. Just because a website exists under a company’s name, don’t automatically assume that everything about them is legitimate. There are hundreds of “dummy” sites created specifically to commit fraud and theft.
  • Never give your credit card number without doing your homework. The vast majority of legitimate job opportunities will not require any investment on your part.
  • If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Before taking any action after receiving an offer or proposal via phone or email, Google to see if anyone has posted a complaint about the organization. Your secretary of state, chamber of commerce and the Better Business Bureau are all resources to check before you make any decisions.
  • Even job-search websites, executive recruiters and career counseling companies must be checked. For example, a Google search of “theladders.com” and “scam” quickly brings up a string of real-life stories about everything from wasting money on the membership fee to being charged for a “professional” rewrite of your resume.
  • Check out hotjobs.yahoo.com for more information about this and many more helpful topics.

The news isn’t all bad. There are legitimate companies offering real jobs. Remember to use common sense and some basic research before making a decision about your next job.

- Thanks WHN reader!

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