Seasonal Job Seekers may be Targeted by Scammers

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rebecca Harpster
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

Are you looking for seasonal work over the upcoming holidays? The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that retailers will hire between 500,000 and 550,000 temporary workers over the 2017 winter holiday season. The holidays can be expensive – gifts, travel, and events all add up – so you may be thinking of taking advantage of a seasonal position.

Unfortunately, scammers may be hoping to take advantage of those looking for temporary work. In 2016, over 2,100 employment scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker. According to the BBB Risk Index, the employment scam is the third riskiest scam to consumers, the second riskiest scam for students, and the overall riskiest scam for those between the ages of 25 and 34.

Be aware of the red flags in order to avoid employment scams trying to steal your personal information, money, or hard work:

  • Don’t complete a complex project before an interview. A consumer in Marin reported the following to BBB Scam Tracker in September 2017:

“Phone call and then sent me a project to complete before secret client schedules interview. Given two days to complete project, and project is complex enough that it takes this much time. After that, no followup received and any attempt to contact the company has been ignored.”

If you’re asked to spend days working on something before an interview, watch out! Testing can be a part of a normal interview, but only invest time in a business if they have invested time in you.

  • Nowhere is safe. You may think that LinkedIn and well-established, reputable job sites are free of scammers. Unfortunately, employment scams can happen anywhere. Whenever you receive unsolicited contact from a recruiter or employer, whether it be on a website, through email, or a phone call, be careful. It may be a great opportunity, but don’t let the excitement blind you to red flags.
  • Businesses are often impersonated. Just because a solicitation appears to come from a legitimate company, doesn’t mean that it’s not a scam. Scammers will often pretend to be from real companies. Even BBB has been impersonated! They’ll create look-alike websites and send emails from addresses that appear legitimate. Look up the company through a search engine, and go to their website independently to verify the URL. Double check the website’s job page to see if the position is listed there. If not, get in contact with someone from the business to make sure the job exists and isn’t a scam.
  • Do your research. Look up the business online. Start at to see their BBB Rating and if there are red flags in their complaint history, or past reviews. Look at other review websites as well, and see if there are negative reviews of the business or if it has been impersonated in the past.
  • Watch out for red flags. An employment offer may be a scam if:
    • the position has a general title that doesn’t require special training or licensing, and allows you to work from home;
    • the position involves “secret shopping”, wiring money, or sending and receiving packages;
    • the job has a “too-good-to-be-true” salary;
    • you receive an on-the-spot offer without an interview;
    • you’re asked to provide personal or banking information immediately;
    • the interview takes place over online chat (not video chat or in person);
    • the employer doesn’t have a website or contact information;
    • the website looks unprofessional or is missing information;
    • you’re asked to pay fees for training or supplies;
    • or you are “overpaid” and asked to wire money back.

For more tips on avoiding employment scams, visit If you encounter an employment scam, make sure to report it to

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting