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13 Growing Job Scams New Grads Should Beware Of



The job market has stayed pretty tight since the 2008 financial crisis (particularly for those without an advanced degree), and many people are so hard up they’re eager to believe in whatever opportunities come along, even if they smell a little fishy. This is a mistake. It’s not just that you could end up working for no money, you might even be taken for your own savings if you’re not careful. Here’s a baker’s dozen of scams hot out of the con man’s oven:

  1. Lists of “pre-screened” jobs that you pay for.

    You may see advertisements for lists or databases of sure-thing “pre-screened” work-at-home jobs. All you need to do is send the helpful “job agency” $40 or $75 for the list. How could you lose? Well … easily. The list ends up being worthless and you’re out that amount of money. There are plenty of free resources out there for job hunting, and while they’re certainly competitive and frequently picked-over, at least they’re (mostly) real.

  2. Any “free government money” offer.

    This simply doesn’t happen. That guy with the question marks all over his suit? Ignore him. In case you haven’t noticed, governments are undergoing a budget crunch, and even in good times they never go around looking for people to give money to. Even if they did, why would that shady middleman entity be bringing it to your attention and offering to share it with you, instead of keeping it for themselves?

  3. An “employer” who sends you packages and asks you to “reship” them.

    This one could cost you not only money, but your freedom. These “forwarding” or “reshipping” scams are actually ways of fencing and transporting stolen goods, which would at best make you a humiliated (and possibly blackmail-able) patsy, and at worst an accessory to a crime in the eyes of Johnny Law.

  4. The envelope-stuffing scam.

    These ads have been cropping up all over the place offering jobs that are allegedly paid per mailing you send out. While that’s not necessarily suspect in itself (though for jobs like that, firms usually just hire temps), as always you should be extremely suspicious if the rate of pay seems disproportionate to the work involved. Who ever got rich licking envelopes?

  5. Medical billing jobs from home.

    As always, if a “work from home” opportunity sounds too good and too lucrative to be true, it probably is. That’s certainly the case with the popular medical billing scam, which often promises massive earnings in the five digits, if only you’ll pay a few hundred in “fees” up front. Don’t fall for it. Real medical billing is a well-established and competitive legitimate industry that would never operate this way.

  6. Craft-assembling jobs.

    There are “jobs” that supposedly have you put crafts together at home from a kit and ship them off for sale. You really think this wouldn’t just be done at a factory overseas? Here’s the real catch: they make you pay for the kit. Then when you send back the “finished product,” they tell you it wasn’t done well enough and keep your money. If you want to make crafts for fun on your own, go for it, or even open your own Etsy shop.

  7. The classic Nigerian scam with an employment twist.

    We really hope no one has to tell you to avoid these by now, but someone must be falling for them or they’d give up on sending them, so here goes: no deposed African ruler is ever going to give you access to his bank account, okay? Similarly, if an unsolicited, weirdly long-winded email in broken English somehow bypasses your spam folder to offer you a job … there’s no job. Also, leprechauns aren’t real. So as tempting as the pot of gold may be, cross off that career option too.

  8. Typing from home.

    There are plenty of legitimate jobs for typists and data entry workers. Nearly all of them will have you come into an office for an interview. None of them will charge you a fee. But scammers will, often for software to “teach you how to make money typing.” You know the way they’ve learned to make money? That fee of yours. Make that a general rule: Don’t apply for any jobs that want you to pay them any amount of money. That’s sort of the opposite of what a job is for.

  9. Phishing disguised as job offers.

    These ones can be a little harder to spot. Phishing attempts (in which hackers try to trick you into divulging personal data they can use to impersonate you) have always been out there, but the eagerness or even desperation of job seekers may make them especially unlikely to think twice. Real employers do sometimes check your credit, but that doesn’t mean you should hand out your credit card info. And before you give any private information to a potential employer, do your due diligence: Google them at least, and read up. Often, you won’t be the first mark they’ve targeted, and there will be scam reports from fellow consumers.

  10. Check “overpayment” scams.

    The way this works is, you get suckered into doing some questionable “job” from home. Then your “employer” sends you a check, but quickly follows up with an urgent problem: they’ve accidentally sent you too much money! Could you please wire back the difference when you receive the check? Don’t deposit it until afterwards, of course. There is no legitimate reason for this behavior. Turn them in with the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

  11. “Mystery shopper” jobs.

    Again, that old rule you should always keep in mind: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. They’re going to pay you to go shopping? Sure they are. For some people, though, it seems too tempting to resist. There are various permutations of this scam but a lot are similar to the “overpayment” scam. In one case, counterfeit checks were sent out and the “change” (real money) was sent back. Although sometimes jobs like this may exist at real companies, no one would ever have to aggressively promote them to get them filled, would they?

  12. Money-laundering AKA payment processing.

    Beware of any “job opportunity” that wants your bank info right away for direct deposit or any other reason. This is another scam where, even if you don’t personally end up getting stolen from, you may be implicated in a felony, even tied up with drug traffickers, terrorists, or crooked governments. You don’t want to be that person (for any number of reasons).

  13. Rebate processing.

    This sounds similar to the “payment processing” scheme but it often unfolds differently. They’ll tell you you’re processing sales rebated for legitimate big-name companies (if in doubt, go ahead and call one of the corporations mentioned; their representatives will probably tell you it’s nonsense and may be alarmed that their name is being used). This is likely to be one of those scams where you pay a “trial fee” or buy a “kit” up front. Legitimate jobs simply don’t ever involve those. Be smart and you’ll be able to navigate past the spammers and scammers to find a real job that meets your needs!

November 7th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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