NOW HIRING: When a Job Advertisement May be a Scam

By Dylan Donley, Spring 2014 Graduate Research Assistant

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How many of you think this sounds like something you would be interested in:  “NOW HIRING:  Government, cruise ship, airline jobs – all occupations available in your area.  No experience needed with great income opportunities.  For more information, call…”  Depending on where you were looking and whether you were looking for a job, it might be an attractive prospect.  How many of you would still be interested if you saw this posting and went to apply, only to be told your application could not be considered until you gave out your credit card number?  Probably not so many. 

Fraudsters have moved from some of the more traditional schemes you might think of, such as email spam and phishing, to fraudulent job offers to take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities in a time when jobs are harder and harder to come by.  As noted by Wisconsin’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, many advertisements that promise glamorous jobs in newspapers, magazines, email, and Internet solicitations are placed by fraudsters interested in stealing a couple of bucks from people seeking work.

For example, an advertisement for airline industry employment opportunities directed two applicants to wire $180 as partial payment for airfare to the city in which the airline company was “conducting interviews;” the “airline company” told the women that she would be reimbursed for all costs and would receive detailed job information in the mail.  However, after payment, the applicants never received plane tickets or job information, and the fraudsters ran away with $180 in their pockets.

If you find yourself looking for job opportunities online, in the newspaper, or in a magazine and see these types of attractive advertisements, make sure you protect yourself with two steps:

(1) Do your due diligence in researching the companies advertised prior to sending any of your personal information to them.

(2) If you do reach out, ask for information about the company, including its location, the operators of the business, and an explanation of the job opportunities, the income structure, and any benefits that are offered in the advertisement.

If the job advertised requires your credit card number to apply or any up-front fee, be particularly skeptical.  For additional red flags, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Signs of a Job Scam.