Beware: Employment scams can target your accounts

By Sabrina Karl

When you’re looking for work, the goal is to increase your available income. But for those falling prey to an employment scam, the result is usually a loss instead.


Scammers attract job hunters by promising reasonable or even minimal hours and too-good-to-be-true hourly pay. They also often offer the option to work from home. While you may see flyers for jobs like this stapled to telephone poles, savvy scammers also list these “opportunities” in the same places you’d find legitimate jobs, whether in newspapers, online, or even advertised on TV and radio.


What employment scammers are targeting is an advance payment from you, or access to your bank or credit card accounts, or both. Whenever you’re asked to pay upfront for the opportunity of a job, whether it’s billed as being for certification, software, training materials, or expenses for placing you with the company, watch out. Legitimate jobs almost never carry a buy-in price tag.


Other red flags are unprofessionally written emails with no contact information provided, job requirements and a job description that are very vague, an interview that will happen via instant messenger, and being given the job right away. You may also hear the false promise of being connected with “previously undisclosed” government jobs (all federal jobs are publicly listed).


Some scammers hope simply to charge you an upfront fee that goes into their pocket while you wait for a non-existent job. But more nefarious fraudsters will insist you provide them with a bank or a credit card account number, and then drain additional funds from you. Even worse, they can potentially use your confidential information to commit identity fraud.


As with all possible scams, the advice remains the same: don’t give your bank account and credit card numbers to anyone you can’t verify as legitimate.