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Daily Q&A: How can I make sure a job offer isn't part of a larger scam?

What are signs that a person making a job offer might be fraudulent?

The troubled economy and high unemployment has increased concern about those who prey on job seekers.

"A lot of people are desperate for work and may be grasping for any job, which creates a great opportunity for unethical activity," said Karen Nalven, President of Better Business Bureau of West Florida. "Victims can lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars to any number of job-related schemes by not thoroughly researching the job opportunity."

Here are some indicators from the BBB that a job posting might be fake:

Red Flag: The salary and benefits offered seem too-good-to-be-true. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little work and no experience necessary in order to lure in unsuspecting job hunters.

Red Flag: Employer e-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Online fraud is often perpetrated by individuals located outside the U.S. Their first language usually isn't English and this is often evident in their poor grasp of the language which can include poor grammar and the misspelling of common words.

Red Flag: The employer requires you to check your credit report. After posting their resumes online or responding to online job listings, many job hunters received what they thought was good news: an e-mail from an interested employer. In order to be considered for the job, the applicant has to check his or her credit report through a recommended web site. The truth is, the e-mail is just an attempt to get the job hunter to divulge sensitive financial information or sign up for credit monitoring services.

Red Flag: The employer is quick to ask for personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers. Regardless of the reason, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or email and only after they've confirmed the job is legitimate.

Red Flag: The job requires you to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram or receive and forward suspicious goods. 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 on to another entity. Reasons given for this requirement vary. Whatever the reason though, the check might clear the employee's bank account but will eventually turn out to be a fake and the employee is out the money he or she wired back.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: How can I make sure a job offer isn't part of a larger scam? 09/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 3, 2010 4:06pm]
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