Monday, July 9, 2018

8 Ways to Avoid Job Scams

Sometime during your career, you may try working from home and take on independent gigs even if you have a stable job. The reasons may vary, such as wanting to earn some extra cash (hello, Bahamas vacation!) to "trying  out" a new skill such as writing or graphic design.

There seems to be no shortage of online jobs being offered that let you work at home in your jammies while your kitty purrs nearby. Sounds great, doesn't it?

But the problem (aside from the fact that you never get out of your pajamas) is that there are people out there who want to ruin everything for you. They will try to scam you with fake job offers, lure you into giving them money or even try to steal all your personal information.

Before you fall into any of these traps, here's what you need to know about work-from-home jobs:

1. Look them in the eye. If someone wants to interview you about a job, you need to communicate via phone or email. Communicating only via text or instant message should be a red flag that the offer is a scam.

2. The big rush. No legitimate job offer should include the stipulation that you must accept the offer right now or lose out. The bad guys want to prevent you from thinking about it too much, and that's never a good idea.

3. Super-secret jobs. This is the job offer that no one else knows about, but this person (or recruiting company) seems to know about it and offers it to you. Be very careful, especially when the job is portrayed as being with the government. These offers also may include names of official-sounding government agencies, such as the Office of Budget Advancement, which doesn't exist.

4. Do your homework. Look up the employer online, looking for an address and phone number. Then, do a map search to see if the company is legitimate -- or does the address match a fried-chicken place when it's supposed to be an accounting company? Check out the company's "career" or "join us" section: Are there jobs being posted that match your job description? Also, do a "news" search of the company to see if anyone else seems to know of it's existence.

5. Protect your personal information. When posting your resume online, only include your email address. You become an easier target for scammers when you post your address or phone number. Never give out information like your Social Security number, bank account information or driver's license number until you've been hired by a legitimate company.

6. Never give them money. You're in this job hunt to earn money, not give it to scammers. Don't fall for the idea that you need to pay an "application fee" or for "training materials."

7. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I think I first heard this term when I was in second grade, and I've never found it to be false. If someone wants to pay you a lot of money for little work, then you need to move on.

8. Stay on your toes. Even if you are starting to get legitimate work, don't ever lull yourself into thinking a scam can't happen to you. I was a freelance journalist for more than 15 years when it happened to me, and it still makes me mad at myself when I think about it. I did some initial investigation, but I should have done more. Scammers are out there and working hard to destroy what you're trying to build. Don't let them.

Job scamming is an ongoing concern, so always keep abreast of the new scams and how they may be infecting different industries or sites. Do a regular search of "job scams" so you're up-to-date.

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