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Online Job Application SCAMS!

Sounds too good to be true. You can search for a new job while sitting in the comfort of your own home. This is great. You can save so much time not having to search the classifieds or drive from location to location without having to shower and get dressed. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find one. It’s also made it easier for criminals to find you.

The FBI has some warnings for you.

Think about it: what do you do when you apply for a job? You give out all kinds of personal information: your name, address, home and work telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, sometimes even your date of birth and social security number. Just what you’d want to know if you’re an identity thief or other criminal.

It’s no wonder we’re investigating all kinds of cases involving online job scams. Here are a few examples we’ve seen of what can happen to you:

  • You respond to an online job ad. You’re contacted via e-mail for an (fake!) interview. Then, you’re asked for bank account information in order to “direct deposit” your paychecks. Guess what? It’s all a ruse…and the crooks drain your account.
  • You get an e-mail from a recruiter or company that’s hiring wanting to know all your personal details for a pre-employment background check. Same drill—that information is used to steal your identity.
  • You post your résumé online with your social security number and other personal information. Criminals find it and use the information to get fake credit cards and loans…in your name.
  • You respond to an online job ad for a “correspondence manager” or “import/export specialist.” You’re hired…and asked to ship products for your employer overseas. Turns out, it’s a reshipping scam. The items you shipped were purchased online using stolen credit cards…and you’ve shipped them illegally to thieves in Nigeria and other countries.

What can you do to avoid being scammed?
The FBI recommends you practice safe surfing by taking the following steps:

  • THINK TWICE about telling all on your online résumé. Do you really need to provide detailed personal information? Consider posting your résumé more anonymously…with an e-mail address as your primary contact point.
  • NEVER provide a potential employer with your bank account or credit card information, a scan of your driver’s license or other ID, or a detailed physical description of yourself. That’s just asking for trouble.
  • NEVER pay upfront for any job opportunity (they’re supposed to be paying you!) and never forward, transfer, or wire money to a prospective employer.
  • BE WARY of job listings with misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and terms such as “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “package-forwarding,” and “import/export specialist.” Those are big clues that something is amiss. Kind of like those e-mails that end up in your bulk mailbox.

And what if—heaven forbid—you do fall for one of these cons? Do damage control immediately: first, close all bank and e-mail accounts linked to the fraud. Then, contact the three major credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit files and to regularly monitor your credit reports for unusual activity. Then, help us clean up the ‘net by reporting the fraud to the job site where the scam was posted and by filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

For more anti-fraud advice, see our Common Frauds webpage and the website.

The Better Business Bureau recommends that you Look for Seven Red Flags when Searching for Jobs Online

A 2007 survey by found that 84 percent of U.S. workers are not in their dream job. Unfortunately, the search for a dream job can lead to becoming a victim of identity theft or other types of fraud. In 2007 alone, the Federal Trade Commission recorded more than 11,000 complaints about business opportunities including work-at-home scams, many of which were advertised online.

Following are seven red flags BBB advises jobs hunters to be on the look out for when using online resources:

Red Flag: Employer e-mails are rife with grammatical and spelling errors
Most online fraud is perpetrated by scammers 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. Kind of like those e-mails that end up in your bulk box....

Red Flag: E-mails purporting to be from job posting Web sites claiming there’s a problem with a job hunter’s account
After creating a user account on sites like or, a job hunter might receive an e-mail saying there has been a problem with their account or they need to follow a hyperlink to install new software. Phishing e-mails like this are designed to convince readers to click a link within the message to fix the issue, but actually take them to a Web site that will install malware or viruses on their computer.

Red Flag: An employer asks for extensive personal information such as social security or bank account numbers
Some job seekers have been surprised to learn they’ve gotten a job without having to do a single interview. However, when the employer then asked for personal information in order to fill out the necessary paperwork suspicions were raised – and rightly so. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.

Red Flag: An employer offers the opportunity to become rich without leaving home
While there are legitimate businesses that allow employees to work from home, there are also a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of senior citizens, stay-at-home moms, students and injured or handicapped people looking to make money at home. Job hunters should use extreme caution when considering a work-at-home offer and always research the company with their BBB first at

Red Flag: An employer asks for money upfront
Aside from paying for a uniform, it is rarely advisable for an applicant to pay upfront fees or make a required purchase to get a job. Most recently, the BBB of Metropolitan Dallas uncovered a scam where job hunters were told they had to pay $64.50 for a background check before they could be considered for a cleaning job. Predictably, after paying for the background check, the job seeker never heard from the company again.

Red Flag: The salary and benefits offered seem too-good-to-be-true
The adage holds true for job offers: if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little experience in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.

Red Flag: The job requires the employee to wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram
Many phony jobs require the prospective 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 from scam to scam. 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 to the scammers.

For more reliable advice on job searching and for what to do if a job hunter becomes a victim of ID theft or fraud related to a job opportunity, go to

no one deals like we do!


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