In depressed job markets, where job hunters vastly outnumber job openings, there are people who try to profit at desperate job hunters' expense. There are "headhunters" who charge for access to a "hidden job market." There are Web pages that charge searchers to see "top-dollar" job opportunities. There are scam artists who present job offers that are attempts to steal your identity. Even veteran job hunters sometimes get sucked in by the offer that looks too perfect to pass up. Repeat after me: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Lyn Chitow-Oakes, an officer with TrustedID, an identity theft protection company, says work-at-home and pyramid business offers should send red lights flashing.
Overseas scam operators particularly are e-mailing people with offers to be their U.S. financial agents, she warns.
Do not even click on their come-ons!
You should always check out the veracity of the company that reached out to you before responding to any offer. Don't respond directly to the e-mail address or the Web page without checking into it first.
Can you find other evidence of the company's existence? Do an online search, get help from reference librarians, check the Better Business Bureau and your state attorney general's office. Look for news stories.
Never, ever fall for a pitch that asks for your Social Security number or any bank account information.
There are some legitimate work-from-home companies. If you're sure you've found one, ask to speak with some current employees and read their online employee chat boards. Most legitimate work-from-home employers will help you gain access.
And don't get sucked in by big income promises. Those often rely on getting others to buy into the sales system, too.
Chitow-Oakes suggests that when you post your resume on job boards, you can reduce the risk of your private information falling into evil hands if you use a separate e-mail address solely for your Internet-related job-hunting efforts.