Work-at-home jobs have always been a target of scammers, but they have recently become even larger targets amid the COVID-19 crisis. It is estimated that there are around 60 scams for every 1 legitimate remote job posted online. With National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) right around the corner, FlexJobs is highlighting 14 common job search scams and how job seekers can stay safe searching for a work-from-home job.
HR Technology News: Terminix Internship Named To Top 100 Best Internships In America By WayUp
“Unfortunately, online job scams remain a troubling component of the work-from-home job market, even as the number of legitimate remote job opportunities continues to grow,” said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO at FlexJobs. “Creating a safe place for flexible job seekers was the primary reason I created FlexJobs, and it remains a top priority. Especially with unemployment still high, finding a new job can be difficult. Scammers are incredibly tuned into the fact that some job seekers are desperate to make money, and they will use this in recruiting new professionals who may not be accustomed to looking for work-from-home jobs,” Sutton concluded.
A 2020 FlexJobs survey found that more than 72% of job seekers report being on guard or very concerned about scams on other job boards. According to the same survey, 17% of job seekers have been a victim of a job scam (up from 13% in 2016), with another 18% saying they only avoided being scammed because they knew the warning signs.
Below are 14 common job scams. Actual job scam postings demonstrating the language and presentation of the scam:
1. Data Entry Scams
Data entry scams come in many forms, but the common theme is that they promise a lot of money for a job that does not require much skill. Jobs in this category often require an upfront payment for processing or training and very rarely pay as well as advertised. There are legitimate data entry jobs out there, but they do not advertise extravagant wages, and they do not require an initial outlay of funds.
2. Pyramid Marketing
Pyramid marketing is illegal and has no basis in real commerce. Typically, there is no product involved in a pyramid marketing scheme, just the exchange of money. Similar to chain letters, people invest in pyramid marketing because they believe they will benefit from investments made by people who follow them into the program. For someone to make money with a pyramid marketing scheme, someone else must lose funds.
3. Stuffing Envelopes
Stuffing envelopes is a job scam that has been around for many years. Although variations exist, this scam typically involves signing up and paying a fee to “stuff envelopes from home.” Once enrolled, you receive a document explaining how to get others to buy the same envelope-stuffing opportunity you did. You earn a small commission when someone else falls for the scam and pays the nonrefundable fee.
4. Wire Transfers
Popular among thieves, wire transfer scams move money quickly from one account to another. These transactions are difficult to reverse, making it nearly impossible to recover lost funds. Although sometimes the request for a money transfer may seem legitimate, it should always be thoroughly checked out. Scammers have been known to pose as company executives asking employees to fraudulently move money from one account to another.
5. Unsolicited Job Offers
Unsolicited job offers often come in the form of a job scam email. These offers are not sought out by the job seeker and offer either immediate employment or the opportunity to interview for a great job. Some scammers will even pretend to be from a well-known company or job board (such as FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter, or Indeed) to convince a job seeker to interview. These offers may also come in through social media (like Facebook or Instagram).
Even LinkedIn is no stranger to job search and recruitment scams. It is possible that a legitimate recruiter is reaching out to you about a legitimate job. It’s also possible that it is a scam. Scammers will use LinkedIn to reach out to targets, knowing you’re more likely to fall for the scam because the message is coming through LinkedIn. Treat every unsolicited offer as a job scam—no matter where it comes from.
6. Online Re-Shipping
Online re-shipping is a very serious job search scam because those who fall for it unintentionally become criminals. Re-shipping jobs, also known as postal forwarding, are work-at-home jobs that involve repacking and forwarding stolen goods to customers outside the United States. Although promised a paycheck and reimbursement for shipping charges paid out of their own pocket, those who fall victim to this type of scam rarely receive any money.
7. Rebate Processor
Rebate processing jobs mislead job seekers by promising high income in exchange for processing rebates at home. A nonrefundable “training” fee is usually required to get started as a rebate processor. Instead of simply processing rebates, this job involves creating ads for various products and posting them on the Internet. A small commission is earned when someone buys the products, part of which is sent back to the buyer as a rebate.
8. Assembling Crafts/Products
Work-at-home assembly jobs have been around a long time. Most companies offering these positions require you to pay an enrollment fee and purchase all supplies and materials from them as well. Companies are known to reject finished products regardless of how closely they match the sample finished product. Or, you have to buy a list of companies looking for your assembly services. Once you pay for the list, however, you rarely find the work you thought you would.
9. Career Advancement Grants
This scam is geared toward job seekers who may want or need to gain extra education or certifications for their career. You’ll typically receive an email asking you to apply online for a career advancement grant that supposedly comes from the government and can be directly deposited into your account if approved.