Although fake job listings aren’t new, technology has made them more lucrative and easier to disseminate, according to the FBI. Cyber criminals often “spoof” the websites of legitimate companies and post phony job postings on popular online job-listing boards. After applicants have agreed to an interview, the crooks attempt to obtain personal information that can be used to open new credit card accounts or apply for unemployment benefits and other government programs.
Even if the offer seems legitimate, don’t provide personal information to a prospective employer until you’ve received a written job offer, says Haywood Alcove, chief executive of the government division of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which helps state and federal agencies combat identity theft. If you’ve been given a contact at the supposed employer, call a central number for the company and ask to be transferred to that individual, Alcove says. If the person doesn’t exist, you’ll know the offer is a scam.
Don’t waste your time responding to ads that guarantee you’ll get a job or ask you to pay fees for training, certification or supplies, the Federal Trade Commission says. Ads promoting “undisclosed” federal jobs are also bogus; if you’re interested in a real federal job, go to www.usajobs.gov. For legitimate job listings in your state, go to www.careeronestop.org/jobsearch/findjobs/state-job-banks.aspx.
As supply chain disruptions continue into the new year, you should also be on the alert for fraud related to product shortages. If an online retailer is offering an item that isn’t available anywhere else, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Check out unfamiliar businesses with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
Emma Patch joined Kiplinger in 2020. She previously interned for Kiplinger's Retirement Report and before that, for a boutique investment firm in New York City. She served as editor-at-large and features editor for Middlebury College's student newspaper, The Campus. She specializes in travel, student debt and a number of other personal finance topics. Born in London, Emma grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Washington, D.C.
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