Scams seem to be on the rise and they come in all forms. Most recently, there have been subscription scams and scams that target smart TVs. 

Now, the Better Business Bureau is warning people of scams targeting job seekers who apply for a job online from what they think is a reputable, third-party job-seeking site.

The scam works like this. Someone applies for a job, then a few days or even weeks later, they get a text message or email asking if they are still interested in the position or perhaps a similar one at the same company. This would not seem suspicious since the person did make their contact information available to the potential employer when initially applying for the position.

When the person responds to the text message or email, they will be invited to interview for the job. This is when red flags start to appear.  The scam starts to unveil itself. Instead of doing a traditional interview, the "employer" asks them to download a messaging app and answer a few questions via text. Then, the applicant is offered the job on the spot, with great pay and benefits.

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The new "employer" may even send a convincing offer letter. After your "job offer," the phony employer asks that a form be completed, including personal and banking information, claiming they need it for direct deposit. In other cases, the scammer may ask the person to set up a home office, either with your funds or money they'll send you in a fraudulent check.

Once those personal details are shared, scammers can from the person and put them at great risk for identity theft.

To avoid becoming a victim of this scam, the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips:

  • Research the person who contacted you. If you suspect the person contacting you could be a scammer, look them up. You should be able to verify whether they actually work for the company or not.
  • Do more research on the company. Even if you did this before applying it's worth doing more if you get a surprise offer to interview so that you can learn more about their hiring process, home office requirements, salaries, and benefits packages. If there is a discrepancy between what you find and what their offer is, you could be dealing with a scammer. As is the case with most scams, a little research goes a long way.
  • Guard your personal information. Never give sensitive information to anyone you aren't sure you can trust. Be especially wary if someone pressures you to divulge your information saying the job offer will only last if you fill out all the forms. Scammers love to create a sense of urgency as that is when people make mistakes.
  • Watch out for overpayment scams. Many job scams involve sending fake checks with extra funds. Scammers ask their victims to deposit the check and send back the excess amount, hoping they'll do so before they realize the check was fake and has bounced, leaving them a loss of funds. A real company only pays after work has been done for them. Anytime you're asked to take payment, then send some back it should be a huge red flag.
  • Don't fall for jobs that seem too good to be true. The old saying "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" is spot on. If you are offered a job quickly with excellent pay and benefits, and you didn't even conduct a formal interview, it's likely a scam.

Hopefully, if you're looking for a job, you land the job of your dreams. Just be extra careful because job hunting is another area where scammers are lurking.

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