BBB warns job seekers should be on high alert for scams

By Scot Bertram, Illinois News Network

Job seekers should be on high alert for potential scams.

That’s the word from the Better Business Bureau, which reported the number of employment scams increased in 2018 along with financial losses. Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB in Chicago and Northern Illinois, said there are some warning signs to look for.

“An employment scam is when you post your résumé online or you go to a job site, and all of the sudden you get a note or a text or an email basically saying they have a job for you,” Bernas said. “And that job usually is going to pay you a lot of money for doing little to no work and with little to no education or experience.”

The BBB report said these scams are effective because they prey on people who may be desperate for work.

“I talked to one individual last month and he said, ‘I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d have to worry about a scam when I’m posting my résumé online.’ It’s sad that it’s come down to that,” Bernas said. “These people’s guard is not up because they think they’re going to a legitimate organization to work.”

Employment scammers often impersonate leading brands like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft when fishing for information.

“These scammers realize they need some details to steal your identity,” Bernas said. “The best way to get it is to go after individuals looking for jobs. The scammers are asking for the same kind of information that a new employer is.”

Other employment scams simply mirror the methods of other schemes.

“The tip off to the rip off is if you get a check from anyone and they tell you deposit it and wire money back or buy a product or service,” Bernas said. “It’s fake. It’s fraudulent. Don’t do it.”

While much attention has been paid to scams targeting the elderly, the report found it is 18-to-24 year olds who are losing the most money to scams.

“The reason behind that, we believe, is there are so many fraudulent offers through emails and online and that’s where the young generation really lives,” Bernas said. “As parents and educators and teachers, we need to inform these young consumers that they have to research organizations with the Better Business Bureau and other organizations.”

For the first time, the BBB reported that websites have taken over the top position as a means of contact for a scam.

“The biggest tip I can give you today is you have to do research on these organizations,” Bernas said. “You can’t trust it just because they’re on the internet. You can’t trust what they say. Figure it out. Look at those organizations.”