Unemployed workers have become targets for scams of all sorts, mostly because it’s a vulnerable population that is more likely to eagerly respond to crooked dealings posed as attractive offers. Here are some of the most common threats targeting unemployed workers:
Bogus Work-At-Home Schemes
Cons are taking advantage of the unemployed by offering the chance to earn extra income by working at home. Our state online job board reported individuals who applied for jobs as mystery shoppers, only to be duped into sending money by wire transfer; receiving software to process medical bills for doctors that didn’t exist; and wiring money for vending machines that were never delivered.
Malware, or malicious software, is a particularly brutal threat. One jobseeker received an innocent-looking email message that included a link to a website supposedly containing job announcements. When she clicked on the link, the site downloaded malware. Other viruses exist that can pervade your computer system if you’re not careful.
Phishing, according to Wikipedia, “is the act of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.” Cons pretending to be hiring managers and headhunters may ask you to upload or update an online resume for a position they’re offering, while getting personal information along the way.
JOB SEEKER TIPS
- Avoid any job that requires you to pay money up front. And never send money by Western Union or Moneygram to someone you don’t know, even if you are sent a check. Fraudulent wire transfers are one of the most common scams.
- Protect your personal information. Use caution when posting your resume online and take advantage of tools that allow you to hide your contact information. Reputable career websites will provide you with the opportunity to communicate with potential employers via a confidential e-mail address, so that your real e-mail address remains private. Never include your Social Security number, driver’s license or birth date on an online resume or share this information if requested by a prospective employer until you have confirmed that the employer and the job offer are genuine.
- Don’t click on links sent in e-mails. Check out potential employers with the Better Business Bureau and independently confirm the employer’s identity. It should be a red flag if an employer uses a common e-mail account like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or MSN instead of a corporate domain. Be suspicious, too, if the only provided phone number always goes to voicemail or if the only available contact address is a P.O. box.
- Secure your computer. Ensure that your computer operating software and anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are updated to detect the latest threats and protect your system.
- Steer clear of too-good-to-be-true offers that promise large paychecks for few hours of work.