Avoid Getting Burned by Job Related Scammers this Summer

Have you been out of a job for a prolonged period?  Are the bills piling up?  Do you need to do something quickly before finances become a nightmare?  Too many job seekers are feeling the pressure of mounting debt and worried that the job search will never come to an end.  This fear and pressure create a perfect scenario for con artists.  These thieves aspire to prey on those ill prepared to deal with their deceptive schemes.

I created #ProjectHelpYouGrow because I want to help people.  Think of me as the anti-bully and I’m here to help expose some of the common techniques that these would be villains are using to try and take your money, steal your identity or hi-jack your accounts.

Information Grab

At the end of the day, they mostly are all trying to gain your personal information.  To steal your identity or hijack your accounts they need you to fill in some details.  Never blindly send information to anyone you have just met online and never interacted with anywhere else.  Too many meet folks on social media, or through an email or phone call, but never interact with them or better still someone else from the same organization. 

Tip: Call the company and ask for the name of your contact

Call the main number you find for the company on Google and ask for that person.  If a con artist is pretending to be the HR director of a company, odds are when you call the main number of the company, you’ll figure it out quickly.  You don’t even have to tell the contact you’re making the independent call.  It’s better if you don’t in fact.  If they are who they claim to be, you will be connected to them or their voicemail and settle the question.

Another warning sign is if a person claiming to work for a major company emails you from a Gmail or other type of email carrier other than the name of the company.  For example if someone says they work for ProjectHelpYouGrow but then they email you from [email protected] .com then they likely are not genuinely from the company they claim to be from.  Remember that most cons or scams pass the first glance test, but don’t hold up to closer examination.

The Hook Can Hurt

If you are caught in a scam attempt, most will try to set the hook by building your confidence.  They will play a shadow game with you, for example if they’re proclaiming to offer you a job, they will ask you to email them your resume.  They will then ask you for an interview. 

Tip: Minor Twists to Facts Can Help Identify Scammers

One thing I’ve heard about these interviews is they are normally very generic and only offer information that is readily found on the company’s web page.  You can test the interviewer if you are in doubt, by mixing up a fact or figure, like reversing the year a company was founded.  Say a company was founded in 1995, you could subtly ask if the company was founded in 1959.  Scammers usually will tip their hand by missing those.  When in doubt, subtle fact checks can be a big help in identifying danger.

The Bait is Set

Once the scammer has earned your trust, via phone, email or chat, they will almost certainly ask you for your personal information.  They want your full name, address, email, phone number, social security number, birthday and work information so they can create new accounts in your name and possibly steal money from your existing accounts.  Once the bait is set, if you’re not paying attention it is very easy to gobble this up.

Tip: If it Looks too Good it Probably is

How do they get you to bite the poison?  They make it look really good and play on your desperate situation.  Remember that they are targeting people who are unemployed and or in financial straits.   A high paying job offer, a well paying job the requires little work, down payment on sponsorship are just a few I’ve heard of.  The bait looks good to someone who has heard a compelling story, especially if you’re a trusting person. 

You have to be weary of everyone until you can verify their validity.  For example if I call or email you and say I’m interested in hiring you, you should pause providing me sensitive information, until you know I am legitimate.  Once you were to meet me at the company that has the name on the door etc. then you are good to go.  Say you call the company on the phone and they transfer you to me from the switchboard again, you’re likely fine.  Another safe bet is if you are corresponding with someone who has the company name after the @ symbol in the email address, however you can still double check. 

Social Media to the Rescue 

Many people bash social media, and it can lead to scams its true.  In this case it can also save your bacon if you use it wisely.  The next tip is to look up the company that has shown interest in you on LinkedIn.  Click the hyperlink “See all employees” and find the person you’re dealing with.  If they are not on the list, you’ve likely been found a predator. 

Tip: Find them on LinkedIn or Their Company Website

At that point you should ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn.  Watch what happens as they make an excuse and try and back pedal.  Do not give them any information at that point until you deal with someone from the company, listed on LinkedIn or their official company website.  You can also visit the company in person and check the status of the person claiming to be interviewing you.

Wait and See

Sometimes we are not sure, is this a scam or am I just being blessed by a great opportunity.  Certainly some good things do come our way, so it’s not out of the question.  If you have tried to verify things and you still have doubts, don’t hesitate to hit the pause button.  You can always ask for time to think or delay responses. 

Tip: Slow Down and Watch Their Response

Most HR professionals don’t force you to make a decision in the blink of an eye.  There is a normal rhythm and pace to the hiring process.  Another warning sign is high pressure closes from people trying to scam you, not hire you. 

You Don’t Pay to Work

One final warning.  If you’re applying to or being considered for a job, you don’t have to pay anything up front.  If a person claims you need to send them money for anything, odds are they are not on the level.  You don’t need to send them a voided check before your hired or give them bank information to confirm payroll capability.  The bottom line is that you go to work to make money.  Certainly there are some jobs that require you to cover incidentals that they will reimburse you for, but those things are not required before you start.  If you have not received an official job offer and passed a subsequent background check, with a clear to hire notice, you should not be providing any financial or personal identification information.  You provide your id and your bank info on your start date, not a moment sooner.

If You Get Burnt

Getting taken by a con artist is a punch to the gut.  Don’t be embarrassed, as it can happen to anyone.  Some cons are simply very good at being dishonest and they know how to make everything seem real.  As soon as you know you’ve been taken advantage of, you should call your local authorities and report it.  Make sure to save all correspondence and you might want to write your own log or incident report on your own, while its still fresh in your mind.  Finally you will want to check your credit report, potentially freeze your credit and even look at changing all your passwords and changing out your bank cards.  A scammer who gets your ID has a chance to ruin your credit and rob you blind.  Minimize the damage by reestablishing a fortress around your identity.

Friends I am sorry if you have been taken advantage of by a crook.  There is little I tolerate less than a thief who preys on people down on their luck.  If there’s anything I can do to help you find a job, I am here to help. Be cautious of everyone.  Double verification and independent checks to validate people’s claims can help you moving forward.  Stay tuned as I will update future blogs if I hear of future scam strategies to be on the lookout for.