Job seekers: Beware of spammers, scammers, and schemers.
By Sharon Graham.
Most job seekers these days rely heavily on the internet as a resource to help them achieve their career transition goals. The internet can be quite useful in helping to perform research and find help; however, there are many dangers lurking within the web and it may be in your best interest to proceed with caution.
As economic stresses tighten, Canadian job seekers are increasingly bombarded by highly unethical criminal activities. Online predators that target job seekers are the Career Industry’s equivalent of “ambulance chasers.” With criminally honed skills, these spammers, scammers, and schemers prey on their victims when they are most vulnerable and looking for help.
Many Canadian and international job boards, recruitment firms, and career consultants are ethical and display integrity in the services they provide. However, to ensure your safety and success, you must be vigilant in spotting predators. Here are some of the most common spams, scams, and schemes that take advantage of job seekers:
Fake Employer Scam
These predators act as potential employers on internet job boards. You’ll find that that they will work in one of two ways; by either posting a fake opportunity or by directly targeting you from your posted resume. These companies often use a “phishing” e-mail technique to create urgency and get you to act soon. If you encounter such a company, at some point, they will ask you to pay something to apply. If anyone ever asks you for money in return for a job, you can be assured that something fishy is going on. Good employers never require you to pay in order to start a job.
Job Seeker Identity Theft
These rip-off artists are similar to the fake employer scammers, but they may be more difficult to identify as they pose as reputable firms on the internet. Sometimes, they use a technique called “spoofing” – stealing the logo and brand from a good company and using it to mimic their website. You will be asked to provide information with promises of a lucrative job offer with wording like this: “We’ve seen your resume, and we’ve decided to offer you a position in our company.” If you are not savvy, you may end up giving them your social insurance, bank account, or credit card numbers. As a condition of being “set up” in the company’s system, you may even be required to enter a password, which then may be used by the criminal to easily access and steal your money.
Fake “MBA” Spam
This fraudster spams the internet with emails selling MBA’s and other advanced degrees without any schooling required. These fake credentials may seem quite tantalizing if you have a limited amount of formal education and are feeling bypassed by employers. Nevertheless, one should beware. Once you “purchase” this designation and put it on your resume, you will quickly find out that many good organizations will check your credentials and disqualify you for an invalid certificate.
Guaranteed Job Scheme
This nasty scammer calls himself a “headhunter” and “guarantees” finding a suitable job for thousands of dollars without any work on the part of the applicant. You may purchase their service thinking that you can avoid doing the work involved in an active job search. Realistically, it is very doubtful that any company would want to hire you without a clear understanding of who you are and what you can do. Remember, you are selling yourself, and therefore you need to take steps yourself to find and earn a suitable job offer – other people cannot do this for you. An ethical recruiter will never take money from you in order to place you in a job.
Resume Writer Scam
This swindler poses on the internet as a legitimate resume service using fake credentials on their site. In many cases, the certification logos and samples on the predator’s site are plagiarized from reputable firms and pasted into their own site. If you are caught up in this scam, you’ll soon find that after paying, you’ll end up with either a template that just “massages” the information you already have in your resume or no product at all. Don’t ever purchase resume writing services without thoroughly checking out the provider. If you find multiple complaints registered on the internet, don’t use that service. Instead, use a well-known, professional service with a good reputation.
Job Board “Bait and Switch”
These unscrupulous job boards use “bait and switch” tactics making people pay to subscribe but not allowing them to see complete postings until they have gone through the aggressive “upselling” of other services and products. Don’t be surprised when you pay to enter a “premium” job site and they use this technique to rudely critique and discredit your professional resume, put you “on guard,” and coldly sell you a resume rewrite. Many good job boards do offer resume assessment services, but they never block you from receiving the services you paid for.
Job Board Resume Phishing Scam
Some resume writing services use a phishing technique by tapping job boards and picking up resumes that are posted by job seekers. These predators, send you an unsolicited e-mail indicating something like this: “While conducting an online search, we reviewed your resume and were concerned that you were not getting the results that you deserve. Our professional resume writing partner will fix your resume.” Be assured that first-rate resume services are far too busy and ethical to spend time searching you out and targeting you without your specific request for help.
Recruiter Reference Scheme
This unethical type of recruiter asks for references before telling the job seeker the name of the company that is hiring. Once he has the references in hand, he goes over the head of the candidate and targets those individuals in the hopes of filling the original position. If you provide your personal references before getting the name of your potential employer, you may be taken advantage of as your reference may be contacted to interview for the job you wanted. An ethical recruiter will never ask for your references before obtaining your approval and providing you with the name of the company who will be getting your information.
Money Laundering Job Scam
These crooks pose as legitimate employers and offer victims a job handling money transfers. You can be solicited by an e-mail, while checking out a website, or when you are responding to a job posting. If you take such a “job,” you would be required to transfer money to various bank accounts in return for a small percentage of the full amount transferred. Be warned – it is very likely that you are laundering money that is stolen, which will make you an accomplice to the crime. Moreover, once the bank learns that what you are doing is fraudulent, the funds will be taken from your account and you will be liable to pay them back.
Work-at-Home Selling Scam
Work from home scammers offer “easy money” to do practically nothing. If you are targeted, you’ll be asked to purchase and pay for product or manufacturing material in advance, and the products “sell themselves”. However, once the product is in hand you will realize that, generally, there is little to no chance of selling enough of the product for you to break even – let alone earn a living.
Work-at-Home Reshipping Scam
The reshipping scammer connects with victims by e-mail and offers them the opportunity to earn money by forwarding packages that are shipped to them to another address. If you accept this kind of job, you will likely be shipping stolen property. Eventually, you will be caught as the name on the shipping receipt and the return address is yours.
Work-at-Home Job List Scam
These scammers take advantage of entrepreneurial job seekers by selling them a list of companies that are looking for people to work from home. If you purchase such a list, you’ll soon find out that you paid for a worthless piece of junk. Most of the companies listed are not looking for people, and much of the contact information is outdated and useless.
These are just a few of the unscrupulous crooks that are taking advantage of job seekers these days. There are many variations to the crimes and criminals listed here. Protecting yourself requires diligence.
- Do your homework. Research companies and look for unsatisfactory reports on both the Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org and the Ripoff Report http://www.ripoffreport.com/.
- Do not enter your social insurance number (SIN), bank account number, credit card number, passwords, or any other personal information on an on-line system unless you are certain that it is legitimate.
- When providing your resume to recruiters, keep personal information such as your age, marital status, and number of children to yourself.
- Be cautious of unsolicited e-mails and job postings especially where there are obvious spelling and/or grammatical errors as they are probably not genuine.
- Do not click on links and do not open files in unsolicited emails. Instead, investigate the company using a good internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo!
- Do not apply to job postings or jobs that require you to pay them anything, transfer funds, or wire money on their behalf.
- Beware of “larger than life” sales pitches such as “#1 Resume Service” if they are not supported and verified by an outside company, association, or other third party.
- Always ask yourself “Is the opportunity too good to be true?” If the answer is “yes,” they are probably taking advantage of you.
The Canadian government continues to institute legislation, but it seems that spammers, scammers, and schemers morph their criminal activities to pose ever-increasing dangers. Many good organizations are taking on a proactive role in instituting ethical practices that support job seekers and enable them to achieve their career goals. Leading Canadian job boards, recruitment firms, career consulting firms, and government services, have tackled these issues too.
Although many ethical organizations have instituted strong policies and processes, criminals still find their way around them. Use your understanding of potential dangers, good intuition, and common sense to proceed with caution. Criminals count on you to let your guard down as you tackle a sometimes lonely and difficult job search. If you encounter a new spam, scam, or scheme that may affect other Canadian job seekers, report it to the RCMP http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/index.htm or contact Phone Busters at 1-888-495-8501.