Job Scams

This time of year brings tax season and tax scams.  An additional scam has accompanied the deluge of annual tax scams. Job scams aimed primarily at college students have become a regular part of the tax season.   

Each year, the scammers become better at making their scam jobs appear legitimate. The cybercriminals’ increased skills can make spotting the difference between a real employment opportunity and a scam harder to determine; there are some key points every person should keep in mind to avoid falling prey to the scammers. 

  1. A lot for a little:  Sometimes, it is best to be cynical. It can seem like a dream to get a hefty paycheck with minimal effort. A big payday is almost always a tell-tale sign of a scam. Cybercriminals use this tactic to obtain personal information for use in identity theft. 
  1. Do some footwork:  It is always a good idea to do a bit of research. Does the potential employer have a website? Does the website provide contact information? Check the Better Business Bureau or the Missouri Consumer Protection website to confirm the business is reputable or whether there is a litany of complaints. If a company is not concerned with customers, it likely won’t be concerned about employees. 
  1. Meet in person:  This may not always be possible under current conditions. However, a formal interview or even a casual chat in a public place may provide insight into the potential employer’s intentions. 

But, even if the job appears legitimate, there are some things you should never do. Such as: 

  1. Never provide banking account information or your Social Security number over the phone or in an email.   
  1. If you take a job and perform a service, never accept payment in a cashier’s check or money order. Even low-cost printers are now capable of creating passable fake checks. And in the event a bank accepts it, you are liable for any legal ramifications. 
  1. If your paycheck comes with “extra” money, do NOT cash it. A common scam is to send a check with extra funds, and the scammer requests you deposit the extra funds in their account. However, the check will bounce, and the extra funds are lost, and you are responsible for the penalties.  
  1. Finally – unless you have met the potential employer face-to-face, never agree to a background check. The scammer can use the information collected by a background check for identity theft. 

Author: Bill Green