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Viral job scams to avoid
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Security & privacy

Booking a job interview over a messaging app? It could be a scam

Technology helps many people in the U.S. easily find a new career path. From job boards to recruiting apps to tools that help build a great resume. There are ways to create a winning resume that will get past bots, but that won’t guarantee an interview.

Unfortunately, scammers are not far behind, rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunity of making some quick cash. Putting a new spin on an old scam, criminals use a messaging platform to trick prospective employees.

Read on to see how the scam works and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently received multiple complaints about a recruitment scam that uses popular messaging platforms to lure victims. The scam is set in motion when you receive a text, email or social media message from someone who claims you’re perfect for a job opening with their company.

It seems like a good offer since the recruiter appears professional and has already checked out your resume. But the first red flag comes when the recruiter insists on interviewing you through a messaging platform like Telegram.

That isn’t necessarily abnormal, but the whole scam isn’t in motion yet. The recruiter will ask professional questions and, after reviewing your answers, will offer you a contract that contains the official letterhead and corporate details.

This is where the scheme kicks in. The recruiter sends you an official-looking form asking for things like your address, date of birth and banking information, claiming they need to add you to its direct deposit payroll and other company systems.

But as the BBB points out, that is the meat and bones of the scam. “If you provide this sensitive information, you could easily become a victim of identity theft,” the BBB says.

Some of these schemes don’t end there. As a new hire, you are referred to a training manager to help set up your home office. This person mails you a check to buy a laptop and other supplies.

After depositing the check, the contact claims you were overpaid and you need to return a portion of the deposit. However, the check is fake, and any funds you send back to your new employer will be lost forever.

What you can do about it

Thankfully there are ways to avoid falling victim to these types of scams. Here are suggestions from the BBB to avoid employment scams:

  • Research job offers – Visit a company’s website and look up their contact information. Verify that the company exists and that the job posting is genuine before interacting with a stranger. Do an internet search with the company’s name and the word “scam” to see if anyone has reported a fake job offer. Look on BBB.org to see any unresolved complaints or negative reviews.
  • Beware of jobs that involve receiving and returning money – Legitimate companies don’t generally send money to new employees before work is done. They certainly don’t ask you to return funds you’ve already been paid.
  • Be careful with your personal information – Never provide anyone with personal information until you are sure you can trust them. Do all the necessary research before divulging anything personal. Never let someone pressure you into giving up your information because it’s a now or never offer.
  • Watch out for easy hires – If a company claims they want to hire you without meeting you virtually or in person, and if they don’t conduct a job interview, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.

If you run into a scam like this, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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