With the holidays comes a great number of openings for winter seasonal jobs. We’ve reported companies hiring by the tens of thousands such as Amazon, Target and UPS. Many of these jobs offer flexible hours, good pay and benefits, and even the opportunity to work from home. But among these legitimate job openings you encounter, you must also be on the lookout for holiday job scams during your job search this season. There are plenty of crooks that like to take advantage of eager job seekers, usually in the hopes of stealing their money or personal information. Many of these companies are doing illegal activities which means you could possibly face legal issues yourself if you fall prey to scammers.
The Better Business Bureau reported that in 2016 there were over 1,900 job scams reported, which resulted in the loss of over $730,000. As of September 2017, there were already 1,400 more online job scams reported to the BBB since January 2017, resulting in a loss of $635,000. Even more unfortunate is the fact that these online job scams increase during the holiday season. An average of 54% of online job scams were reported to the BBB from September to December in the past two years. These winter seasonal job scams can be found both in online job postings as well as through unsolicited emails from bogus employers claiming to have found your resume online. To help you avoid holiday job scams, here are some common red flags to watch out for:
1) The offer seems too good to be true
If you receive an email from an employer that seems overly eager to hire you, be wary. A major red flag of holiday job scams is an employer that seems ready to hire you before you have even had an interview. Also, many of these scams claim to require barely any education or experience, but offer pay that seems unrealistically high. In this case, please proceed with caution.
2) Details about the company are scarce
Some of the telltale signs of winter seasonal job scams include e-mails from non-company e-mail addresses (such as Gmail or Yahoo emails), no contact information in the online job listing, no company address or website, and lack of company information when you do a Google search. Always verify the legitimacy of companies you apply to jobs with, either by doing your research online or giving them a phone call. Any legitimate company should be able to give you references, have online records of past business dealings and a website that gives you a clear idea of what they do.
3) Illegible or unprofessional e-mails
Many job scams come in the form of unsolicited e-mails. If the e-mail is written with poor grammar, punctuation and misspellings, you could be dealing with a scam.
4) Fake applications claiming to be from well-known companies
Particularly with holiday job scams, you may come across an application or e-mail from a well-known company (such as Amazon or Target, since these companies are doing so much hiring during the holidays that scammers figure it’s a great disguise). But often you can tell these companies are not who they say they are because either the offer seems too good to be true, or the application is on a bogus-looking website. Often these crooks are trying to steal your personal information for identity theft.
5) They request personal information way too soon
If you haven’t even had an interview yet and are very early in the hiring process, you shouldn’t be asked for personal information such as your social security number, bank account details, birth date or address. This is another red flag of a job scam trying to steal your identity.
6) They require you to pay money up front
A legitimate job is supposed to pay you, not ask you to pay them especially before you have even started working. Winter seasonal job scams often request you pay them (often through wire transfers) for training or supplies, or request you purchase expensive items. If this happens you are probably being scammed so move on.
7) They send you a check
Another common type of job scam is known as an “overpayment scam”. In this situation, the employer will ask you to cash a check. The check is likely to be fraudulent and bounce, and the employer will claim they overpaid you and that the funds be returned to them. But by then your bank account will be overdrawn and you will be held responsible by the bank.
8) Work from home scams
While work from home jobs are becoming more and more common, scammers still love to use the “work from home” job title to take advantage of eager job seekers. One of the signs of these holiday job scams is if the job seeker is asked to forward items in the mail as their main job responsibility. Often, these items have been legally obtained and you could face possible legal consequences as well.
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Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.