March 31, 2007

Make $500

Don't Fall for Online Scams Dressed Up as Job Postings
March 27, 2007
Amy Baldwin -- The Charlotte Observer

Looking for a job? If you're searching online, you should beware of scam offers aimed at stealing your money or personal information, according to a nationwide warning issued recently by the Better Business Bureau.

Online employment scams come dressed up as real job postings on well-known sites, such as Monster and Yahoo! Hot jobs, according to the BBB.

Often, the jobs involve part-time or work-from-home posts, but the professions are wide-ranging - from information technology and accounting to quality control.

"It's popping up all over the country," said Tom Bartholomy, president of the Charlotte, N.C.-area Better Business Bureau. "They are utilizing the technology that is available now. Five years ago, you would see the signs on telephone poles. 'Work from home.

Make $500.' " Bartholomy related two recent complaints involving online job scams. In one, a woman was hired for a job as a secret shopper, someone who evaluates a company's product or customer service so the company knows how it needs to improve. She was asked to deposit a $2,700 check into her account and then wire money to someone in Canada. She called the BBB instead and found out that the "employer" was trying to bilk her out of her own money.

Another woman was hired to ship electronics to Eastern Europe. She didn't know the items had been stolen until federal agents showed up at her door, Bartholomy said. Bartholomy said the bureau gets thousands of calls each year about job fraud and that calls are increasing because the Internet makes it easier to fool consumers.

The fact that the scams appear on popular job sites "give them an air of legitimacy," he said. Bartholomy didn't have an exact number of complaints. Sometimes consumers contact the bureau before they become victims and so they don't actually file a complaint.

According to the BBB, job seekers should refuse employment that involves:

-Your personal bank account. Never agree to deposit checks or money orders or to have money wired into your bank account.

-Don't forward money from your account to another account, even if you are promised reimbursement. The checks or money orders likely will be counterfeit and the wire transfers will eventually be rescinded, leaving you out that amount of cash.

-Money out of your pocket. You shouldn't have to pay a fee to learn the details of a job or for so-called background or identity screenings.

-Reshipping products. Victims spend their own money to reship products and are "reimbursed" with bogus checks or money orders.

-Cross-border action. Offers from entities outside the United States and Canada are typically suspect. It is difficult for bureaus in the U.S. and Canada to investigate companies in other countries.

To further guard against identity theft, the BBB recommends job seekers omit personal information, such as Social Security numbers and even college graduation dates, from resumes posted online.

Job hunters should also consider providing an e-mail address as their primary contact instead of a home address or phone number.

Job seekers can check out prospective employers, placement firms and recruiters with the BBB. Go to

- Amy Baldwin covers money-related topics for 20- and 30-somethings in "Out of the Red." Have a question about your personal finances? Contact her at (704) 358-5179 or Leave your name and daytime phone number.

Source: (c) 2007, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.). Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.
Copyright © 2007