Scammers Zeroing In on Job Seekers

Finding a job in this economy is tough enough, but job hunters now have to beware of fraud artists who see them as prey and try to separate them from what little money they have.

Unemployment is so high, and has been for so long, it's a boom market out there for the scammers, experts say.

On "The Early Show," workplace consultant Debra Shigley spelled out what job seekers should be on the lookout for so they can steer clear of the crooks.

Shigley, author of "The Go-Getter Girl's Guide," said the first red flag to be wary of you say job hunters should be wary of is tweets from various companies hyping the same program.

It is, she says, a new twist on the typical work-from-home scam. They try to woo you in with the work-from-home ploy and then links pop up that can lead to scam sites and install malware on your computer. It works this way: You have to register for a special "instructional CD Rom" with a nominal shipping charge - BUT, unless you call to cancel the service, you'll be CHARGED a monthly fee -- some have been between $50-$100 monthly. A total scam!!

You should be wary of any ads, whether from Twitter or via email, that say you can get rich without leaving home. Most of these ads blare, "Work from Home!" but remember, work-from-home isn't a job title. It's usually the bait to take advantage of stay-at-home moms, senior citizens, students or others looking to make money conveniently. However, many times these aren't really job ads, but scams. The way these schemes typically work is that you're required to actually PAY money to get the business going, like a pyramid scheme, or "invest" money in an off-shore account. Tip: Beware of any job ad or business opportunity that calls for "no experience necessary" or doesn't ask for a resume, yet promises huge financial rewards. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Another red flag: when an employer's e-mail looks fake.

Online fraud is often perpetrated by scammers located outside the U.S. Their first language usually isn't English, and this is frequently evident in their poor grasp of the language - given away by poor grammar and the misspelling of common words. Also, the logo might look fake or copied. Or, the ad claims to be from a well-known company but lists a "free" e-mail address with g-mail, hotmail, etc. Tips: Get a second or third opinion on any suspicious e-mail from a potential employer. Do your family and friends think it's a scam? Also, do your own background check on the person/company. You can use the Better Business Bureau web site. On the Domain tools website, you can tell how long the company has been registered and who it is registered to.

Yet another red flag: when an employer is quick to ask for a credit report.

The very first things you want to look at are the size of company and the timing. Sometimes, a Fortune 500 company will ask for a credit report in the beginning but, if you're on, say, Craigslist or a smaller site, this could be a "phishing" scam. After posting their resumes online or responding to online job listings, many job hunters receive what seems like good news: an e-mail from an interested employer. In order to be considered for the job, the applicant has to have his or her credit checked through a recommended website. The truth is, the request is just an attempt to get the job hunter to divulge sensitive financial information or sign up for credit monitoring services. Tip: Take note of where the posting is. If it's the website of a Fortune 500 company, it's quite possible that they ask for an Social Security number, but not a bank account number, just to apply online; there's usually no way around this, and lots of security measures are in place to keep your information safe. But you're looking on a general classifieds site like Craigslist, be more wary of giving this info. Also, consider the timing: Many legitimate, high-profile employers DO require a credit check or ask for a Social Security number, but that's usually after the recruiting process is well under way or a job offer is imminent. If it's right away, that could be an indication something's not right.

Yet another warning sign: when an employer requires you to wire money or handle suspicious goods.

This is a new take on an old scam. How it works is someone asks you to process a payment. Many phony jobs require the employee to cash a check sent by the company through the mail and then wire a portion of the money to another entity. But, the bank account or check will eventually turn out to be a fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back to the scammers. Tip: Don't get involved in anything that asks you to wire money, like Western Union, period. You're likely to lose your money, and could unwittingly engage in criminal activity. Your first rule of thumb should be to never, ever pay money to someone who claims they have a job for you. If the recruiter wants to have you pay money up front for the service of finding you a job or training, there's a very small chance it could still be a legit opportunity. Get the name of the person and their company and research on Google and Linked In (legit recruiters are almost always on LinkedIn) before giving any money. Most don't ask.
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