Phony advertisements for non-existent jobs that lure people into either giving the scammer money or personal information that can be used for purposes of identity theft have been a common scam for many years, but particularly during the holiday season when many companies are looking for seasonal workers, the scam gets worse. Scammers use ads on job sites, social media, newspapers and even television and radio, the same platforms used by legitimate employers to attract their victims. Sometimes the scammers use the names of legitimate companies and sometimes they make up phony companies just for the purpose of offering phony jobs through these companies.
According to the FBI, which has warned about the increasing frequency of job scams, the scammers often first set up a phony website that appears to be that of a legitimate company with which you might be familiar. They then post the phony job opportunity on legitimate job sites and direct the job applicants to the phony website These scammers will do interviews of prospective employees in much the same way that real companies do to make their scam appear legitimate, however, unlike legitimate job interviews, the interviews done by scammers are generally relatively short and don’t require repeated interviews before the targeted victim of the scam gets “hired.” At that point, the scammer then requests personal information such as your Social Security number which a legitimate employer would also do which is one reason this scam is so dangerous. They also may ask for money or your credit card number to pay for background investigations or equipment for the company which legitimate businesses do not do.
Although LinkedIn, Indeed and other websites that carry job postings try to identify and either prevent or remove phony ads from appearing on their websites, you cannot depend on these companies to fully protect you. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Certainly a little skepticism helps when you see a job posting for a job that sounds too good to be true. Ads that ask for you to pay upfront costs for any reason should be considered to be a scam as well as any company that requests your credit card information for any reason whatsoever.
To check on the legitimacy of photographs in these ads you can do a reverse image search using Google or websites such as tineye.com. You can also check to see if the wording of the advertisement has been used elsewhere by merely copying a substantial amount of the text into your search engine and see what comes up. Also, research the company itself to determine if it is a legitimate company. Check out the website of the company supposedly offering you a job to see if the legitimate company is offering such a job. Make sure you are using a domain name that you have confirmed is legitimate and not just the one contained in the email sent to you by the scammer. If the job doesn’t appear on the real company’s website, you know it is a scam. It also is a good idea to confirm any job offer you might receive with the HR department of the real company before providing personal information such as your Social Security number.
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