Employment scams are common and have been around for several years. However, with the unemployment rate at record lows, job seekers should take extra precautions to make sure postings are legitimate. Those searching may be more susceptible to become targets for less-than-reputable businesses willing to take advantage of their employment situation.

Job scammers often post fake opportunities with the intent of obtaining personal information and/or money from the applicant. The Better Business Bureau warns job seekers to proceed with caution before sharing sensitive information when applying for positions found online.

Promises of hefty salaries and benefits for minimal effort and experience are tell-tale signs of bogus opportunities. Remember, your personal information is valuable, scam artists want it and will do just about anything to get it.

Some con artists are out to make a quick buck by pretending they can help you find work for a fee, others phish for information online, posing as employment recruitment firms or hiring managers, then using the information to compromise your identity. Once the victim has taken the bait and applied for the job, the scammers may set up an interview where the scammers will seek out a victim’s sensitive personal information, such as their Social Security or bank account numbers. In some scams the victim will even be prompted to purchase “starter kits” for the job or send a check to cash for the purposes of covering their office supplies or training fees.

The BBB provides these guidelines to job seekers:

Never pay a fee. Be suspicious of any employment service firm that guarantees to get you a job for a fee. Be wary of firms promoting federal government jobs for a fee. All federal positions are announced to the public on www.usajobs.gov.

Never pay for background checks or drug tests. This is part of the cost of doing business. If a potential employer requests that you pay for these tests, you will likely never hear from them after they’ve received your money.

Protect your information. Never provide any non-work-related personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card number, date of birth or home address online, through email, over the phone or on your resume. This can be released in the face-to-face interview, or after more trust is established with subsequent phone conversations (after you’ve checked the company out, of course).

No interview? Not legitimate. If you are offered a position without a formal interview, either face to face or through video conferencing, it’s most likely a scam. Be wary of employers who hire you on the spot or conduct interviews via text, email or through instant messaging services.

Always check with the BBB before doing business with any company. As always, it’s always very important to do your homework. For over 100 years the BBB has provided information for consumers so that they can make educated decisions about businesses, brands and charities they can trust. Carefully evaluate contact information in job ads or related emails, watching out for an email address that does not feature the company’s name, the use of post office boxes rather than an office address and inconsistencies with area or ZIP codes.

If you have been victimized by an employment scam, you can help prevent these types of incidents from happening to others by reporting them to BBB Scam Tracker or by calling the BBB at 903-581-5704. For more information on how to be a savvy con- sumer, go to bbb.org.

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