Unfortunately, there are people lurking behind the cover of seemingly legitimate offers. They are ready to steal your money. Often the most vulnerable are the ones targeted by these con artists. Who is more vulnerable that an unemployed person? With the sophistication of today’s technologies and communication methods, an individual with a modest operation can pose as a trustworthy corporation. However, we can outsmart these crooks, and protect our identity and money!
You need to know the most common scams to avoid. Secondly, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you are in doubt, contact your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s office, and the Better Business Bureau to search for filed complaints about a company before you interact with them. Below are examples of common scams identified by federal agencies.
Job Search Related Identity Theft Scams
Beware of anyone asking you to fax or email copies of passports, birth certificates, Social Security numbers, credit reports, bank account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, or self photographs. Don’t provide any confidential information by phone or any other means. There are numerous scammers utilizing fake job ads to steal your identify. Employers do not need this information with your application.
Job Search Scams
Look out for firms selling general information about getting a job. Many firms are selling access to “unadvertised/undisclosed” federal government jobs. Because all federal positions are announced to the public on www.usajobs.gov, you can save your money and find these jobs for free. There are plenty of free resources online to search for jobs in the private sector as well. Another scam involves entities offering job-placement services for a large upfront fee. If there are any guarantees, they are negated in the fine print of the contract. Read those contracts closely and be careful not to buy services otherwise available for free.
Fraudulent Job Opportunities
There are many in this category. However, these outfits have something in common and they are easy to identify. These fraudulent companies collect an upfront fee or require the purchase of a starter kit, training CD, materials, or special tools. Some collect a credit card number and continue to charge you a monthly support or training fee until you cancel with a 30 or 60-day written notice. Examples of opportunities include:
- Work-at-home jobs
- Movie extras
- Mystery shoppers
- Stuffing envelopes or assembling products at home
- Tweeting to earn money
- Rebate processing
Unemployment Support Services
You do not need to pay anyone to help you file for unemployment insurance programs. You can inquire with your state unemployment office for free assistance. Yet many Americans fall into this trap and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for something they can get for free. Some pay and receive no benefit.
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission
- State Attorney General’s office (search online for your state office)
- State and local consumer protection organizations