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Finding a new career opportunity can be stressful.  Especially when a job offer seems to meet all of your requirements, you may wonder if it’s too good to be true.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned of a surge in employment scams, and those in the market for a new job, or looking for extra part-time work should be cautious. Below is a list of red flags to look for when seeking employment opportunities.

1. The employer requires payment for hire

Scammers will request that you pay a “fee” for training, certification, or equipment. Once the payment has been made, the employer seemingly disappears along with the position you were offered. In other cases, scammers will mail checks to prospective “employees.” Once received they will ask to have a portion of the original funds sent back in cash, check, or by money transfer to purchase “supplies” or pay for equipment. The check will then return after being cashed causing the victim’s account to become overdrawn.

Legitimate employers will not ask for payment to secure a position with their company. You should avoid giving credit card or bank account information to anyone unless they are familiar and payment was discussed previously. Any supplies or equipment necessary to complete work-related duties should be the responsibility of the hiring company.

2. The business has no traceable street address or real online presence

After viewing a desirable position online, you should research the company. Look for a physical address, a phone number, and a real online presence like social media accounts or an active website. If all that is available are hiring ads and a P.O. Box, you should exercise caution. If you suspect this opportunity may be a scam, search the company name followed by the words “scam” and “fraud”. There may be others who have encountered these scammers while searching for a new job.

3. The messages received are not from a corporate email address

Some employment scammers will impersonate well-known companies. For example, a recruiter from Carolinas Telco FCU could reach out to offer a position, but all of their communications are sent from [email protected]. Recruiters from legitimate businesses will not use generic domains for email communications. If the hiring manager genuinely worked for CTFCU, the email address would be something like [email protected].

4. The recruiter requests sensitive information on the application

Does the job application for the position you’re interested in request sensitive details, like your checking account information or credit card number? You may even be asked to share other information, like your father’s middle name, name of your hometown, first pet’s name, or your mother’s maiden name. These are answers to common security questions and can be used to retrieve passwords. Such information should not be requested on an application and you should be cautious of who you give this information to.

As always, practice caution when online. Keep your browser updated and strengthen the privacy settings on any social media accounts. When engaged in a public forum, don’t share sensitive information, such as your full birth date or employment history. Never send money to unfamiliar companies or agree to cash a stranger’s check in exchange for a commission. If you feel you have been targeted by a job scammer, you can file a complaint with the FTC.


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