TYLER, TX – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new twist to the old fake check scam - this time preying on individuals searching for employment. In a job market which is extremely competitive, more individuals are becoming susceptible to questionable offers for employment as they try to find work. The unemployed become easy targets for scam artists, often making decisions in haste which can cost them both time and money.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and calls to BBB, the first contact for the offer has been through a Craigslist ad or unsolicited email. The job seeker replies to an online ad in which they are paid (typically $500 per week) to drive around in a vehicle wrapped with an advertisement or logo of a well-known company. They then receive a package containing instructions and what appears to be a legitimate check for approximately $2,500. They are then instructed to deposit the check, wire a large portion of it back to the company and keep the remainder as their “pay”. However, in the cases being reported, the offer is not valid, the check bounces, you end up owing the bank, and the person who made the offer gets away with the wired money.
“Keep in mind, companies are very protective of their image and branding”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “They are not likely going to allow someone to advertise for them without doing some kind of background check.”
BBB offers following tips when considering an employment opportunity:
Never wire money. Any job listings or offers that require you to wire money, especially to recipients outside the country, is suspicious. Walk away.
Never agree to deposit a check and send a portion to someone else. No matter how legitimate the check may appear to be, no matter what story or reasonable-sounding explanation you are given (“Mystery shopper” is a common scheme), you will get burned. A bank teller might accept the check, but when it turns out to be fake, you will have to reimburse the bank for whatever amount you wired to the scammer.
Beware of unexpected offers. If you receive a job offer without filling out an application, meeting with the business or being interviewed, it is probably a scam.
Protect your personal information. Don’t give out your bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers to any unsolicited callers, even if they claim that the information is needed to direct deposit your “paychecks” or “winnings.” Before providing any information to a potential employer, do your research and verify the job is legitimate.
Don’t trust P.O. boxes. Be suspicious of any employer or company that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar street address (not a P.O. Box or website only) and telephone number. Call the telephone number listed and ask to speak to someone in the human resources office. While there are hundreds of legitimate online (or “dotcom”) businesses, most job scams work exclusively through email and websites.
Start with trust. Visit www.bbb.org to check out any potential employer, and contact those companies using information you verified on your own. Never rely only on contact information provided through unsolicited emails or phone calls.
If an offer promises large returns for little work and little experience, it’s probably too good to be true.
If you have fallen victim to this scheme, you may file a complaint with IC3 and your attorney general.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:00:48 GMT
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