Holiday hiring is already underway, and Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest reports employment scams are trending up from last year.
In 2016, more than 1,900 employment scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker, resulting in more than $730,000 lost. From January to September 2017, there have been nearly 1,400 scams reported resulting in more than $635,000 lost.
In the past two years on average, 54 percent of employment scams were reported from September to the end of December. With a few more months left in 2017 and the holiday hiring season right around the corner, those looking for a job should use extra caution.
Many job seekers are conducting their search fully online, using online recruiting sites, social media platforms and web searches to find available positions. Some sites allow users to apply for many jobs with a click of a button or upload their resume for recruiters. These tools can lead to great jobs, but job seekers should also be wary of potential fraudsters trying to scam them or steal their information.
BBB recommends keeping the following in mind when searching for a job:
- Overpayment for work. In this scheme, job seekers are told they have been hired and will be sent their first paycheck immediately. The check is for more money than expected, and the new "employee" is asked to forward funds to another party, supposedly to buy equipment, pay a bill or another excuse. This paycheck is likely fraudulent and will bounce, leaving the job seeker to cover the overdrawn funds.
- Vague company descriptions. It’s a huge red flag if job hunters can’t identify the company’s contact information, owner, headquarters or even product. Just because an ad is listed online doesn’t mean the business is legitimate. Pro tip: check the BBB App to see if the employer has a good rating.
- No interview. If job seekers are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it’s most likely a scam. Be wary of jobs that hire on the spot or conduct interviews via online chat or instant messaging services.
- Check company websites. Last year BBB received reports of several phony “Target” and “Macy’s” seasonal hiring solicitations that led to phishing schemes. Be sure to check the company's official website to verify if the job is official.
Anyone who has encountered a scam, whether money lost or not, can report it to BBB Scam Tracker. For more information on employment scams, visit bbb.org/employmentscam.