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Don’t let fake jobs put you in debt
Job scams threaten your financial health. They steal your savings, destroy your credit rating, and leave you feeling victimized. Sadly, you are most vulnerable to falling for them when you need more money to pay bills.
Be leery of newspaper or online opportunities that promise quick cash. At first glance, these ads look like bona-fide job offers.
Job fraud is a shape shifter. It appears as mystery shopper scams, job offer scams, work at home scams, identity theft scams, personal assistant scams, payment processing scams, pyramid and gifting club scams, personal assistant scams, and re-packaging scams.
The many faces of job fraud share one thing: they prey on people who either can’t find jobs, or who don’t make enough money to live on working at their day jobs. They leave people willing to work double-time with empty bank accounts, unplanned overdrafts, NSF fees, and damaged credit ratings.
Professional fraudsters lure honest folks who are looking for ways to add money to their month, and they’re getting better at trapping their prey. New versions of classic job scams hit the headlines nearly every week.
Earlier this month, a variation on the money transfer scheme, hit the headlines across Canada.
On February 3 CBC’s Go Public reported that that a new bunch of con-artists had led yet more victims in a financial quagmire. They began by posting professional looking ‘mystery shopper wanted’ job ads on the internet. Using a legitimate-looking Canadian address and avoiding the biggest mistake less sophisticated scammers make – corresponding in ‘Nigerian Prince’ English – they wreaked havoc on the finances of Canadians in several provinces.
Successful job applicants were told they would be doing ‘market research’ to gain information on the way Western Union did business. The fake bosses mailed the victims a $5,000 cheque, supposedly to fund the market research assignment, along with instructions to deposit the money in the bank.
Next, the bosses told these would-be mystery shoppers to head to their local Walmart or Money Mart to begin their first assignment. The aspiring mystery shoppers transferred cash out of their own bank accounts to the phoney names and addresses their bosses told them to write on the forms.
The bosses picked up the victim’s cash on the other end of the transfer. Needless to say, the cheques the fraudsters had mailed to these aspiring mystery shoppers bounced like rubber balls.
The victims, folks with day jobs who wanted to make more money, were left on the hook for NSF fees, overdraft fees, and the money they spent sending out fake money orders.
Don’t let job fraud put you in debt. Before you answer any online job posting, make sure it’s not a strategy to put your money in some fraudster’s pocket.
Make the potential employer earn your trust.
Never get so desperate to find work that you ignore that niggling feeling that something isn’t quite right about a new opportunity.
Do some research, even if you have a good feeling about the potential job.
In addition, job scam information from the Government of Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre, provincial consumer protection ministries, like the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer Services, offer valuable insights on avoiding job scams.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission’s job scam information page is crammed full of the facts you need to know to steer clear of job scam. Cleveland.com’s Scam Finder Index gives a great description of tactics by different types of job scammers.
When you need to build savings or pay-off a debt, looking for an extra job is a good decision. But be smart about it! Protect your financial health and your bank balance by staying alert to job scams.
Jane Harris-Zsovan offers her readers practical money advice for the real world.