Watch Out For Job Scams & Schemes

Jobs are hard to come by. Unfortunately, job-related scams are not. We’re here to help you avoid adding insult to injury and prevent you from getting scammed while looking for work. Scam artists, always ready to capitalize on anyone down on their luck, are targeting the job seekers via phony job hunting sites, spurious wealth building plans and sketchy work-at-home schemes. We’ll offer some advice on how to spot these dodgy outfits and what legitimate services you should be using.

Sites That Require YOU to Pay

To some, the idea of paying to get work or access to jobs might seem a little crazy. But if you’re desperate for work, you might try just about anything. Some sites are trying to exploit this by guaranteeing that you’ll find the job of your dreams, if you only pay them an upfront fee of $29.95. Sitejabber reviewers have been especially fed up with several poorly reviewed jobs sites. The reviews on these sites claim everything from using job applications as a front for stealing personal information, to charging for a supposed “free trials”, to posting fake jobs.

√ Our advice: never pay upfront for work or access to job listings. Also, never give out personal information unless you have complete confidence in the recipient. Check reviews on Sitejabber first. Plenty of free job boards exist as well such as the US Government’s job site, Craigslist (although watch out for scam job posts on Craigslist too), Universe.jobs, and professional social networking site LinkedIn. State governments also have considerable resources like this job site for California residents.

Résumé Writing “Services”

Recently a number of lousy résumé writing services have cropped up. These sites claim to amp up your résumé in order to make you look more desirable to prospective employers. Unfortunately these businesses often take your money and send you back your résumé in the same shape it was in, or in some cases worse than when you sent it. One site that Sitejabber members have flagged is Pongo.

√ Our advice: rather than using an unfamiliar site, try asking a responsible and trusted family member or friend. If you need additional assistance, there are free and reliable sources of resume advice online like this one from the California state government.

Easy Money and Working in Your Pajamas

Multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs) and work-at-home scams all seem to suggest that living the American dream is so easy even your dog could do it. No skills needed; they’ll coach you on everything you need to know. In no time at all, you’ll be earning amounts of money that you’d never imagined before. Maybe they require you to sell a few things to friends and family for big riches, or earn thousands of dollars clicking on internet ads and surfing the web. Suffice it to say, easy money doesn’t exist. Fraudulent pay-per-click and telecommuting sites will try to entice you into joining their cavalry, and while there may be a few legitimate PPC and telecommuting sites, remember that you either will need a tangible skillset such as computer programming or you won’t be making nearly as much money as they claim. For a full list of work and how and MLM scams see our earlier post.

√ Our advice: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Best to avoid work from home and easy money jobs and stick to finding more traditional jobs or acquiring skills to help you get a job. A great resource is the US Department of Labor. You can also look for an internship as a way to get experience. And once you’ve picked up some skills it could be possible to work from home using sites like eLance and Guru.

More Tells of a Job Scam

Scams work because the companies that employ fraudulent practices understand a little bit about human behavior. For that reason they often follow similar patterns. Familiarize yourself with these so that you can avoid being caught in the traps.

  • A scam will surely try to tell you that “you’ll miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you don’t take advantage of the offer right NOW!” Because they don’t want you to do your research on them, they’ll use high pressure sales tactics to make sure you sign on board (usually with a deposit) as quickly as possible.
  • Scams will offer too-good-to-be-true refund policies, “risk-free” or “money-back” guarantees. These will turn out to be worthless. After they take your money, they’ll be out the door.
  • If there are little to no details about the work involved, there probably isn’t any work to be had.
  • Scams will often ask for money up-front. This does not mean that all businesses that ask for money up-front are scams, but if you can otherwise get information for free, then you shouldn’t need to pay.
  • Valid addresses and phone numbers may be difficult to come by. You may not be able to access that information at all or if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the address is an empty lot on 24th and Washington.
  • If you’re unsure as to how to evaluate a business opportunity, the Federal Trade Commission offers a short quiz to help you identify the appropriate steps to validating a legitimate business prospect.
  • There will probably be some bad reviews or write-ups on these sites. Check Sitejabber for reviews and fraud reports.

If we’ve missed any tell-tale signs, be sure to let us know. If you’ve been scammed by websites claiming to help you find work or make money, you can help others avoid the same fate by writing a review and reporting scams and fraud on Sitejabber.

Sitejabber is a consumer protection service which helps people avoid fraudulent websites and find good sites. You can use Sitejabber to review, complain about and report fraud on websites, as well as research unfamiliar sites. Sitejabber is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was named a Top 100 Website of 2010 by PC magazine.

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