HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today warned Pennsylvania consumers to use caution when searching for job opportunities online.
The Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection recently learned of a new online scam that targets job seekers. Scam artists are targeting online employment sites with fake listings in order to obtain personal information, such as birthdates or Social Security numbers, from unsuspecting applicants. Some employment scammers also directly request cash payments by charging consumers an “application fee” to apply for a fake position.
Here’s how the scams work: Job seekers go to online employment sites, such as Monster.com or Indeed.com, and see an interesting job opportunity. The listing asks them to pay $50 or more as a “fee” to apply for the position – or give their personal information as well. These are likely scams.
“Scam artists are always trying new ways to cheat people out of their hard-earned money. These criminals use every online ruse imaginable to steal people’s money and personal information,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “It can be difficult to tell the difference between an online job scam and a legitimate employment opportunity because these scammers are using the same websites where real employers advertise job openings. I’m asking consumers to be cautious and use common sense when providing money or personal information and follow my Bureau of Consumer Protection’s guidance.”
The Bureau of Consumer protection has seen a recent surge in employment scam complaints, with numbers jumping from 18 complaints in all of 2017 to 22 complaints already in 2018.
Attorney General Shapiro and his Bureau of Consumer Protection provided the following tips to help keep consumers safe when they are searching for a job online:
- Do not provide your Social Security Number or other personal details prior to your first day of on-site employment.
- Research the employer advertising the job before providing your resume or any personal information to potential employers.
- Visit the company’s website. If they don’t have one or if it doesn’t have any contact information, it’s a red flag. Reconsider applying.
- Examine carefully the email addresses of unsolicited job offers and any links to make sure they link to legitimate company websites.
- Don’t be swayed or fooled by testimonials or money-back guarantees. Scammers make false promises all the time.
- Check the company’s references. If they are unwilling to provide this information – be careful. A legitimate company would offer this information if requested.
- If the position is with a well-known company but the advertisement is on an outside job search website, check the legitimacy of the job offered by the company on their website or contact the company’s human resources department to ask about the opening. Scammers often use real companies’ names and logos as part of the scam.
- Request a face-to-face interview, rather than a telephone interview, before accepting a job offer or providing your Social Security Number or other sensitive information.
- Never cash a check for a potential employer and forward the money to a third party.
“If you believe you’ve been victimized by an online employment scam, I want you to call or email my Bureau of Consumer Protection and file a complaint,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We’ll investigate your complaint and get you any restitution and justice you deserve.”
Pennsylvanians who believe they have been victims of an employment scam should file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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