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Looking for a side job? Beware of fake jobs, employment scams

Hattiesburg-Laurel  WDAM-TV logo Hattiesburg-Laurel WDAM-TV 1/18/2022 Sharie Nicole
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you’re looking for a side job to earn some extra cash, beware before you apply.

That’s the caution from the Better Business Bureau serving Mississippi.

Job searches for remote opportunities grew a whopping 360% between June 2019 and June 2021, and they’re continuing to climb, according to Glassdoor research.

And BBB’s John O’ Hara said it’s also creating more opportunities for crooks to pose as employers and steal personal information and money.

Someone in Central Mississippi became a victim just before the Christmas holidays.

“It was a work at home scam where you would wrap a vehicle,” O’ Hara said.

The invitation seemed simple - you got paid to advertise on your vehicle.

After a telephone interview and a few other preliminaries, O’ Hara said the fake company sent a phony $8,000 check to its newest employee, who was supposed to pay $5,000 out of pocket to have their vehicle wrapped.

“They deposited the $8,000 check, but they didn’t wait for it to clear before they sent $5,000 to the company they thought was going to put the decal on their over their vehicle and paint their vehicle,” he said.

The decal company was the same fraudulent employer, and the check bounced.

“They tried to get in contact with the decal company to find out when to bring their vehicle in, and they couldn’t get in touch with anybody. It was a scammer, and their money was gone,” O’ Hara said.

Here are five things the BBB says you should consider:

  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home, package reshipment, and secret shopper positions, as well as any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. Positions that don’t require special training or licensing appeal to many applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads. If the job posting is for a well-known brand, check the real company’s job page to see if the position is posted there. Look online; it’s likely a scam if the job comes up in other cities with the same post.
  • Different procedures should raise your suspicion. Any pressure to sign or onboard is a red flag, as legitimate companies will understand that employment choices are big decisions. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or a significant income under the condition that you pay for coaching, training, certifications, or directories.
  • Never deposit unexpected or fishy checks. Be cautious sharing any personal information (including your banking and credit cards) or accepting any pre-payment. Don’t fall for an overpayment scam; no legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere.
  • Government agencies post all jobs publicly and freely. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments and the U.S. Postal Service/Canada Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job; it’s probably a scam.
  • Get all details and contracts in writing. A legitimate recruiter will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer), and what happens if you do not find a job.

O’ Hara also said to research the job offer and the business, examine the email address and be wary of jobs that involve receiving and forwarding money.

And don’t assume an employer is legitimate just because it’s posted on a popular website with other credible jobs, like, Indeed, Monster, or Career Builder.

“They’re not vetting the job, OK, they’re just a vehicle for people to list a job. For example, I just scanned one site with a job offer for a customer service representative, paying $75,000 a year to work from home. You know, that should raise a red flag because that’s an awful lot of money,” he said.

BBB said when remote jobs are listed, it’s easy for scammers to get thousands of people all over the world to apply - but even if they don’t get your money, they can do just as much damage with your personal information.

“If the job application is asking for your social security number, date of birth, and driver’s license, they can open up lines credit, or they can take loans out, they could file a tax return.”

Copyright 2022 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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