By Barbara Perone
To make sure you don’t get conned by fraudulent employment schemes, review this quick reference guide whenever you get what sounds like a suspicious job offer, either over the telephone or in an email.
• A red flag: emails that scammers send are usually lengthy. Remember, they’re being chatty on purpose because they want to gain your confidence, that’s why they’re called con men.
• Search for a legitimate job, or company, by using popular search engines like Google or Bing. A phony company name might show up on one of the various employment scam warning web sites, such as: www.scamalert.com or www.ftc.com or www.worldprivacyforum.org or resumedatabaseprivacytips.html.
• If you are getting rid of your old computer, electronically wipe the hard drive clean or physically destroy it and any other digital devices that contain personal information. That goes for I-Pads & copiers with internal hard drives.
• Shred any mail or paperwork with your name/address, credit/financial, medical information, especially any pre-approved credit card loan applications. To stop receiving pre-approved credit cards loan applications in the mail call 888.567.8688.
• If you get unsolicited job offers in your email spam folder, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Check every company’s web address very carefully. Malicious web sites may have nearly undetectable differences in their domain names, such as using .net instead of .com.
• Don’t fill out forms sent inside an email; it’s just another phishing scheme to steal your personal information. Go to the company’s official web site, find the appropriate forms, and fill them out there.
• Speaking of phishing, if you accidently open a fishy-sounding email, avoid the automatic response to click hyperlinks in the message, another way of eliciting personal information from you.
• Read all emails very carefully. Look for mistakes in: syntax, spelling, grammar, or punctuation. And, be aware, the mistake might be ever so subtle. For example, the name of the person sending the email might say Md. Mohammad Smith instead of Mr. Mohammad Smith. Another tip off is that nobody is that formal these days.
• If you receive a suspicious looking check in the mail, visit www.FakeChecks.org to determine whether it is real or phony. Report the latter to your local police.
• Watch a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer education video (available in English & Spanish.) to learn how to avoid being conned by an employment scam. To view the video, go to www.ftc.gov/jobscams or visit www.youtube.com/ftcvideos
• If you want to become an online entrepreneur, do your homework. Get specific information about the company you are interested in by going towww.ftc.gov/bizopps. If Spanish is your first language, visit www.ftc.gov/opdemegocio.
• Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your area to find out more about any company offering you a job. To do that, go to www.newjersey.bbb.org.
Question to ask legitimate companies that offer work-at-home jobs
If a company says it will allow you to work-at-home, ask lots of questions before accepting the job, such as:
• What type of tasks will I be expected to perform?
• Do I have to pay for supplies, equipment, membership fees? Will I be reimbursed?
• Can you give me a list every step or task the job entails?
• If it’s a sales job, will the company pay me salary & commission or just commission?
• Who will be paying me?
• When will I get my first paycheck? (Don’t sign up for direct deposit of your paycheck until you feel comfortable working for the company.)
• Make sure you understand the salary details. Will I be paid by the hour? by-the-week? by-the-month? or twice-a-month?
To read the fifth & final installment in this job scam series, please see the blog entitled What to do if you get scammed.
By Barbara Perone