Here's some "easy money": just send a $35 application fee, or pay $99 for a background check, or pony up $250 for training fees. Get it? The easy-money is for the scammer, not you.
You're at Risk
And you, jobless, worried about your finances and desperately needing cash, oblige. Your bills are coming due, a new year has begun, and you find yourself increasingly depressed and doubly intent to make something happen. Because of your situation, you are more likely to take risks you might not ordinarily take. Scammers anticipate this.
Gaining Your Trust
Legitimate companies spend millions of dollars testing their product ads by varying wording, pictures, and timing to assist you in your decision making. Although scammers don't invest these kinds of funds in market research, some of them are as sophisticated in using methods to gain your trust.
Some clues should be instantly recognizable or can be uncovered with a bit of Google research. Here are a few red flags:
- Paying money up front for any reason: Legitimate companies rarely ask you to pay for anything. In the few cases where they do, you've proceeded through an interview process and it's clear that you have been hired.
- Poor grammar, spelling, or punctuation: Frequently the scams are foreign-based and English is their secondary language; this shows in their written text.
- A free email address such as Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail: While not all companies with free emails are scammers, it's wise to be cautious with them, especially if other clues are present.
- No company name, no email, no phone number: Just an "Apply Here" button. Legitimate companies reveal their identity and their email is generally the same as the company name unless it's a confidential replacement. Some scammers "borrow" real company names for fake websites but with no contact information provided. Check the company's real website for comparison or call the company to verify the position offered.
- Auto responder emails: All internet marketers use these but many consumers don't realize it's a readily available tool or how it works. Messages are pre-programmed to be delivered based on specific actions. If you email a question, chances are good you'll get an auto responder message designed to sound as if it's written by a real person.
- Early request for your social security number, bank account or driver's license numbers: Legitimate companies don't ask for these up front. Direct deposit is an option, not mandatory. Although some government entities require direct deposit, it's only after you've accepted a job offer. If you haven't had a phone or face-to-face interview, or an offer hasn't been extended, don't provide this information.
It Can Happen to Anyone
If you think you're exempt from falling for one of these, you're not. I know one executive with a six-figure salary history who was nearing the end of his savings and becoming increasingly desperate. He believed he was close to landing a job with a company in England until two months into the process. His wake up call was being asked to provide his bank account number so they could wire travel funds.
Some job seekers believe they're doing due diligence by asking if the position is a scam or legitimate. A scammer's job is to make you believe false information. Your job is to recognize that if you have to ask, you already know the answer.
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