BBB Reports Ongoing Problem with Online Job Scams

The Better Business Bureau today issued a warning advising job-seekers to beware of misleading online job postings and employment arrangements aimed at stealing money and identities.

Online employment scams generally target the increasing population of workers wanting to work from home, but also impact those looking for second jobs, and young people looking for part-time employment.

Complaints to the Better Business Bureau span dozens of sites, to include employment advertisements listed on well-known, legitimate job sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder and Yahoo Hot Jobs.   New fraudulent offers seem to appear as quickly as screeners for these and other online job posting services can remove them.

"Job scams prey on a victim's willingness to trust an "employer" by offering high-paying jobs to con workers into revealing personal information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers," said Tom Bartholomy, president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau.  "In most cases, instead of getting paid, the job seeker loses money and in some cases, instead of getting hired the job seeker loses their identity."

No profession or position appears to be immune.  Through posting resumes online and replying to advertised positions, victims report scams associated with diverse jobs and career fields such as mystery shoppers, IT assistants, quality control administrators, export/import specialists, bookkeepers, journalists, engineers, construction workers, "government" agents and security experts.

A common denominator in all online job scams is the employer's lack of interest in meeting the employee.  There is no job interview and the job applicant is not invited to the place of business.

"Essentially, the employee is hired sight unseen to do a virtual job for a non-existent company.  Trustworthy businesses want to meet prospective employees face-to-face, discuss their experience and qualifications, check references and only then, make a job offer," Bartholomy said.

A job seeker should refuse any employment opportunity that involves:

Using your personal bank account:  Never agree to deposit checks or money orders or to have money wired into your bank account, for any reason.  And don't forward money from your account to another account, even if you are promised reimbursement.  The checks or money orders will be counterfeit and the wire transfers will eventually be rescinded.

Paying money out of your pocket:   You should not have to pay a fee to learn the details of a job, secure job-placement assistance, obtain a "background" or "identity" screening or accept an employment offer.

Re-shipping products:  Stolen credit cards are typically involved.  Victims spend their own money to re-ship products and are "reimbursed" with counterfeit checks or money orders.

Divulging private information:  Legitimate businesses do not ask prospective employees to provide their birth date or Social Security number, or a copy of their driver's license or passport.

Cross-border action:  Offers from entities located outside the and are typically suspect.  While there are BBBs across the and to help investigate businesses in

North America , it is much harder to develop information on businesses located in other countries.

To further guard against identity theft, the BBB advises job-hunters to refrain from including their Social Security Number, birth date, or college graduation date in resumes that are posted online.  Consider posting you resume anonymously, and providing an e-mail address as your primary contact rather than your home address or phone number.

Job seekers are urged to check out all prospective employers, job recruiters, placement firms and other employment opportunities with the Better Business Bureau ( to find out if the business is legitimate and can be trusted.