Searching for employment?

Tips to avoid being the victim of a job scam.

employment scams

Posted on Jun 06, 2019

Scammers advertise where real employers and job placement firms do. You might find their ads in the newspaper, online, on signs, posters, or flyers. What are some ways you can tell if a job may be a scam? 

You need to pay the employer in advance. If you have to pay up front for new hardware, software, training materials, certifications, or other job placement expenses, your suspicions should go up. This is a common tactic of job scammers. Take extra time to research the employer before paying for anything upfront. Do internet searches with the name of the company and words like review, scam, or complaint. Look through several pages of results to see what others are saying about the company. You can also check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General's Office, and the Better Business Bureau for previously filed complaints. 

You're asked to share your online banking or mobile banking credentials. If an employer requests access to your online banking to setup direct deposit or to utilize your mobile deposit to deposit a check, the employer is definitely a scammer. Employers will ask for your bank account number and routing number to direct deposit your paycheck, but will never ask for your online or mobile banking credentials.

You're accidentally overpaid. If an employer sends you a direct deposit or check for more than you expect and they request you send them back the difference, it's a scam. No legitimate company would ask an employee to do this. By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fraudulent check can take weeks. When a check turns out to be fraudulent, unfortunately the person who deposited the check and spent the money is the one responsible for paying back the bank, not the scammer.

You're hired as a mystery shopper. While some businesses do hire individuals to conduct mystery shopping, many postings for these jobs are scams. With legitimate mystery shopper jobs, typically the shopper is reimbursed for anything they spend and they get to keep the product or service. Sometimes they even receive a small payment for their services as well. However, if a mystery shopper employer provides you a check and instructs you to deposit it into your personal account then withdraw a portion of the check and use it to purchase gift cards or to evaluate the services of a money transfer provider like Western Union or MoneyGram, it's a scam. You can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website to search for mystery shopper opportunities.  

You can find more helpful information about mystery shopper, work-at-home, and other job scams by visiting the Federal Trade Commission's website