The internet can be a great resource when you’re searching for a new job. Unfortunately, it’s also home to many online scammers who are constantly devising new employment schemes to trick you into handing over your money or sensitive personal information so they can steal your identity.
Here are five online job scams and how to guard against them:
- The Scam: Requesting Personal and Checking Account Information Upfront
Posing as employers, fraudsters will immediately ask for protected personal information such as your driver’s license, Social Security and checking account numbers. Some examples of why they say they want it:
- Need to do a background and/or credit check
- Want to set up direct deposit in order to issue paychecks
What to do: Never share any protected personal or account information with an unverified or untrusted source, especially if they’re requesting the information before you’ve even gone through an interview or an official hiring process. If a potential employer is more interested in your personal or account information than your job skills, it’s a sure sign of fraud.
- The Scam: Paying You for Transferring Money Using Your Online Accounts
A common online job scam offers a “commission” in exchange for facilitating money transfers through your personal accounts. And they’ll request your log-in credentials to conduct the transfers and deposit your pay. This may sound like an easy way to earn extra cash, but it’s only a ploy to get direct access to your accounts.
What to do: Never give the username and password you use to access your online banking accounts—or any of your personal accounts—to anyone, ever. If you shared this information with a third party, change your online password immediately and contact your financial institution right away so they can update your security settings and closely monitor your account for fraudulent activity.
- The Scam: Sending Money Wire Instructions with Your Paycheck
Fraudulent employers often send a non-cash payment—such as a check or money order—for more than the amount you’re owed. They’ll urge you to immediately deposit the full amount and wire them the overage. When the fake check ultimately bounces, you could be fully accountable for both the check amount and any wired funds.
What to do: Using a money wire or transfer service such as MoneyGram is like sending cash—once you send the money, it’s nearly impossible to trace it or get it back. Before taking any action with a non-cash payment, talk to your financial institution first to verify its legitimacy; this extra step could save you from getting scammed.
- The Scam: Asking You to Send Money or Pay Fees in Advance
Scammers will often say you’re required to pay a fee for work visas, training, travel expenses or background/credit checks that are required for the job. Once you pay up, the so-called employer becomes impossible to reach and the job opportunity proves to be non-existent.
What to do: If a potential employer ever asks you to pay them—especially before the job even starts—it’s a scam. Just walk away.
- The Scam: Promising a Lucrative Work-from-Home Job Requiring Minimal Work
Be highly suspicious of opportunities that promise unusually high wages, or come with a paycheck before you’ve done any actual work. Other red flags include employers who hire too quickly or communicate with you solely online via email or instant messaging. Reputable companies require a job interview before they hire you, so there’s cause to be suspicious if you get a job offer when you either never applied in the first place or didn’t go through a formal interview/hiring process.
What to do: Don’t forego common sense when it comes to considering so-called job opportunities that are simply too good to be true. Always do your homework to see if the company is legitimate. Start with a simple Google search to see what comes up, including online reviews of the company, and see if the business has a legitimate website. Also check with the local Chamber of Commerce associated with the business’ address; if the business has a true physical location in the city, they should have a record of it. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another good resource that allows you to search for specific businesses on its website and see if there are any complaints or fraud trends associated with the company in question. Visit www.BBB.org for more information.
How to Report Fraud or Scam Attempts
You can help identify and stop financial fraud and internet scams. If you were a victim, or if you believe you were approached by a potential scammer, take action by reporting it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and/or the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
FTC Complaint Assistant
www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP
FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
We’re Here to Help
In addition to a 24/7 fraud detection service, SchoolsFirst FCU gives Members access to fraud detection specialists who can help investigate potential fraud on your accounts. If you notice any suspicious activity on your account(s), or if you believe you’ve been the victim of financial fraud, please contact our fraud department immediately at 800.462.8328, M-F, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Or, after hours at 800.462.8328, opt. 3, 365 days/year from 5 a.m. to midnight (Pacific Time).
When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s email to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies.
Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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