De-scamming the Scammers

will-s-0209Tumult and adversity often serve as the perfect primer for corrupt behavior. While millions of honest Americans are suffering through the ills of uncertainty and unemployment, it’s almost unfathomable to believe that there are scores of unscrupulous people willing to prey upon their unfortunate circumstances.

Employment scams, also known as job offer scams, are running rampant in the labor landscape. One of the most popular of these scams involves people posing as recruiters or employers, offering attractive employment opportunities which require the job seeker to pay them money in advance, usually under the guise of work visas, travel expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses. In the past, many of these perpetrators have relied on classified advertising and direct mail campaigns. But the proliferation of the Internet has provided many current day scammers with access to a much larger pool of potential victims.

Although there are no sure-fire defense mechanisms to eradicate these potentially fund-draining scams, there are ways to take extra precaution. The synthesis of a job offer scam is usually built around any of the following three objectives: deprive you of your money; get you to work for nothing; or, even steal your identity. Some job scammers find their victims by posting what looks like a legitimate job opening. Others will email in response to your posted resume with job offers that may or may not sound legitimate.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Do your homework to make sure that the company that you interview with is legitimate.

Never give your bank account numbers, driver’s license number, or social security number via email or internet. Your driver’s license number and social security number might legitimately be needed during the screening process for a driving record, criminal background or credit check, but do so with extreme caution. In actuality, most organized and well-structured companies will only ask for this information once an official offer is made.

Avoid dead-end commission jobs that are designed to reel you in quickly.

These types of employment scams can be very difficult to recognize in the beginning. Unassuming new employees are lured into the fold and expected to achieve unrealistic sales agendas, then are often forced out after a brief stint. The existing staff will then pick up whatever accounts were established on the departed staff’s efforts. Sales jobs that sound too good to be true usually are. Another type of job offer scam takes the form of “commission based” or “independent contractor” type opportunities. Usually, there is no formal interview process involved and very little training or coaching before being thrown directly into the fire, with no base pay or benefits. The turnover rate with these opportunities is normally extremely high.

Never pay anything up front to get a job.

Getting a job should never ever cost you anything upfront. Be leery of those who are trying to sell you a product and a guarantee to generate income. The product won’t guarantee you income and you won’t get your money back either. Also, be aware of home based envelope stuffing or product assembly scams. Both typically require the upfront purchase of a “starter kit”, only to find there is no market for your “product.” If the objective is to steal your money or identity, scammers will often ask for personal information under the pretense of paying you or qualifying your candidacy.

If you’re approached about an opportunity that appears to be less than honest or possibly shady, don’t hesitate to notify the job board through which the offer came. All job boards and job search engines do make an effort to disallow disingenuous employment opportunities, but obviously, this is not always the case. Do your due diligence and make it a common practice to visit company websites or perform Google searches to check for the legitimacy of prospective companies. The Better Business Bureau can be a helpful option, although many of these companies change names faster than the Astros change their line-up.

Trust your instincts. Awareness can often be your best tool of defense. Good luck with your job search endeavors, and always keep your head in the game!

Wil Smith is a Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Wil has collected over 20 years of expertise in the areas of Corporate Training & Development, Recruitment and Operational Management; with the majority of that time working with a Fortune 500 Corporation. He has also worked in the Sports / News industry as a reporter and broadcaster.

1 Response to “De-scamming the Scammers”


  1. 1 belinda August 31, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I have seen a couple of this scam jobs since i’ve been job searching. This is good information to be aware of. Thanks


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