If you're looking for a job, you know that it can be overwhelming. The competition is fierce and sometimes it seems there are hundreds of qualified applicants trying to fill the one open position that is perfect for you.
The last thing you need when job hunting is to run into a scammer trying to rip you off. That's exactly what's happening right now. Work-at-home scams are such a problem, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is getting involved.
FTC files restraining order on job scammers
Job scams have become such a problem recently that the FTC has filed a restraining order against certain alleged offenders. The complaint claims that the defendants allegedly lured consumers into buying an online system, falsely promising that they would earn thousands of dollars in their spare time working from home.
According to the FTC, the defendants operated under numerous brand names and claimed people could earn "hundreds of dollars per hour from home, without any special skills or experience." Online "native" advertising was being used to target consumers who were trying to find work-at-home online. One example is a link placed to their Work At Home EDU website near an article dealing with working from home on Forbes.com.
Here is a list of the alleged job scam brand names included in the FTC complaint:
- Work At Home EDU
- Work At Home Program
- Work At Home Ecademy [sic]
- Work At Home University
- Work At Home Revenue
- Work At Home Institute
If you see ads from any of those on the list, do not click on them. The defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Business Opportunity Rule. The Rule requires business opportunity sellers to make certain disclosures to help consumers evaluate the opportunity, and prohibits such sellers from making earnings claims without adequate substantiation.
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Job scams aren't going anywhere, they've been around for decades. Not only do you need to know how to spot one, but also how to respond. Here are suggestions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
How to avoid falling victim to a job scam
- Payment required to get the job - Scammers will ask you to pay a fee for certification, training materials, or their expenses placing you with a company. After you pay, the job doesn't exist. Legitimate employers and employment firms should not ask you to pay for the promise of a job.
- You're asked for banking information - Do not give your credit or debit card or bank account information over the phone to a company unless you're familiar with them and have agreed to pay for something.
- Ads for "undisclosed" federal government jobs - All federal job openings are announced to the public at usajobs.gov. This information is free, if you see an ad asking to pay for it, it's a scam.
- Investigate hiring company - There are many legitimate job placement services. Fraudulent ones will lie about what they can do for you, promote fake job openings, or charge up-front fees. If a company is mentioned in an ad or interview, contact that company to find out if it really is hiring through a service.
- Check for complaints - Your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General's Office, and the Better Business Bureau can tell you whether any complaints have been filed about a company. You might even be able to find out about a job scam by doing a simple internet search.
- File a complaint - If you have been targeted by a job scam, you should file a complaint with the FTC.