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Scams that make fake job offers via text are on the rise



Scams that make fake job offers via text are on the rise

The number of reported scams, of various kinds, increased dramatically during the pandemic and has stayed at an elevated level since then, according to the Federal Trade Commission. One type of ploy that’s been around for a while — but is quickly adapting to new technology — targets job seekers.

Job scams come in a couple of flavors. One: fake postings on legitimate job search websites. Two: scammers reaching out to people directly, often through text.

“Saying, ‘I’m a recruiter and I know you’re in the market, and we found that you would be a good fit,’” explained Eva Velasquez, who leads the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center.

Last year, her organization saw an 118% increase in job scams that aim to get people to share their personal information, which the perpetrators might steal or sell. 

She said scammers are taking advantage of changes in the way we work. 

“There’s a lot more remote work. We’re doing a lot more upfront, digital-only transactions,” she said. And because of that, it’s very confusing for people who are new to the workforce.”

That makes texts or WhatsApp messages from a scam employer about interviews, job offers or onboarding seem real. 

Other scammers use fake jobs to get people to send them money. 

“It’s at the very beginning, when they say, ‘You’ve got the job, congratulations,’” said Rhonda Perkins with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

She said the scammer will say something like, “You need to buy a computer to do this job.” 

They’ll send a fake check, and then they’ll say: “‘Oh, wait a minute. Oops, we sent too much money. We need you to send some of it back,’” Perkins said. 

And the person will be urged to send their own money and still be without a job. 

Any time a potential employer asks for money, it should be a red flag, said Selena Larson with the cybersecurity company Proofpoint. 

Also, she said, beware of out-of-the-blue job offers that are light on details 

“Things that are sort of overly simplistic or little to no information about what the job actually is,” said Larson.

She added that it’s important to do research on any potential employer who reaches out, even if they seem legit. Check to see if other people have received similar offers that ended up being scams.

“We’ve even seen in some cases LinkedIn profiles of recruiters [who] say in their bio, you know, ‘We don’t send unsolicited job offers’ or things like that,” Larson said.

When you’re in the market for a job, you might feel stressed. If you get an offer, you might be excited to accept, Larson said. That’s what scammers are counting on.

And if you do fall for any kind of a scam, the consensus is: Don’t be ashamed. Tell people about it — and reach out for help. 

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