Are you looking for seasonal work over the upcoming holidays? According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the overall economy is expected to gain an average of 163,000 temporary workers over the 2018 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 2017, BBB Scam Tracker received over 2,000 employment scams nationwide, with email being the primary means of contact. According to the BBB Risk Index, the employment scam is the third riskiest scam to consumers and is the riskiest scam for both students and military/veterans. For young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, employment scams ranked as the overall riskiest scam.
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. 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. Read more about LinkedIn employment scams here.
- 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 bbb.org 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 bbb.org/employmentscam. Click here for information from the US Department of Labor on seasonal employment. If you encounter an employment scam, make sure to report it to BBB Scam Tracker.