Employment scams are not new, but they've become increasingly sophisticated as scammers design websites that effectively mimic the sites of legitimate companies. How can you keep from being ripped off by bogus job agencies?
- Do you research. Gather information about the job placement companies you're interested in. Also ask around. Chances are you know someone else in your industry that has worked with a job agency and can offer opinions based on personal experience working with the agency.
- Beware bogus job e-mails. When contacted by a job placement service, watch for misspellings, grammatical mistakes, or a personal e-mail address. They're red flags for fraud. Some descriptive words that may be tip-offs to fraud are "package forwarding" or "foreign agent agreement." When used in e-mails, such words may indicate that a scammer is trying to entice you into a money laundering scheme.
- Job placement or job counseling? Some legitimate companies charge a fee to help you identify and hone your skills, prepare a professional resume, and practice interview techniques. But they don't guarantee job placement. You're paying for a service. It's your responsibility to send out that resume and ace that interview. If you're looking for someone that can place you in a job, make sure you're working with a job agency.
- Get the details. Read the job listing and contract and ask specific questions. What happens if the job lead doesn't pan out? If you get vague or confusing answers, back away.
- Refuse upfront payments. If a company representative says he's got a job ready for you, but you need to pay a fee for certification, training materials or placement expenses, hold on to your money. The promise of a job isn't a job. If possible, contact the potential employer directly to find out if the company is actually hiring.
If you think you've been a scam victim, close all bank accounts that may have been involved in the fraud and keep a close watch on your credit reports for unusual activity.