Beware of Employment Scams

By BBB Serving Central Virginia | February 19th, 2020

Advice from the Better Business Bureau on spotting job scams


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Finding a new job can be stressful, but don’t allow scammers to prey upon that stress to line their own pockets. Employment scams are particularly egregious because they prey on people who are already feeling pinched and may be desperate for work.

“People who’ve recently lost their jobs, military members transitioning out of the service, college graduates needing that first job – all are particularly vulnerable to being job scammed,” said Barry N. Moore, President of BBB serving Central Virginia.

If the scam gets far enough, scammers collect the same information that real employers do – address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account – everything needed for identity theft.

How to Spot an Employment Scam

  • Be very cautious of any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit, or paying for training.
  • Check the business’s website. Scammers frequently post jobs using the names of real companies such as Amazon to lend legitimacy to their cons. Check on the actual business’s website for the position and/or call to confirm.
  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as a caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. Positions that don’t require special training or licensing appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads.

Seeing the Red Flags

Different procedures should raise your suspicion. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring. Don’t fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories.

Government agencies post all jobs publicly and freely. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Therefore, be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

Above all, get all details and contracts in writing. A legitimate recruiter will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer), and what happens if you do not find a job.

The nonprofit Better Business Bureau was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education, and charity review. The BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties.

For more information on employment scams, visit BBB Scam Tracker.

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