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Beware of bogus employment scams

Unemployed workers in Washington and the rest of the country have become targets for crooks posing as employers making bogus job offers. Here are some of the most common threats targeting unemployed workers:

BOGUS WORK-AT-HOME SCHEMES
Cons are taking advantage of the growing number of jobless workers by placing ads online and in local newspaper classifieds offering the chance to earn extra income by working at home. Recent reports include individuals who applied for jobs as mystery shoppers, only to be duped into sending money by wire transfer. Another job-seeker paid to receive software to process medical bills for doctors, only to learn there were no job leads and the software was virtually worthless. Yet another victim wired money to purchase vending machines after responding to a newspaper ad, but no machines were delivered.

COMPUTER VIRUSES
A Kirkland woman, while trying to help her husband find work, received an innocent-looking e-mail message that included a link to a website that supposedly contained jobs announcements for engineers. When she clicked on the link, the site downloaded malicious software. The software blocked her ability to download updates for her anti-virus provider and Microsoft, sent spam e-mails from her account and changed settings so that other computers on the couple’s home network had a chance of receiving erroneous information. For example, it tampered with settings so that certain advertisements chosen by the virus program showed up during Google searches. The engineer said he ultimately had to reformat the hard drive to remove the virus.

PHISHING
The same out-of-work engineer received a separate e-mail appearing to come from a legitimate headhunter he had previously contacted. The well-written message appeared to have been sent from a staffing agency that employs individuals at high-tech companies. It asked him to update his online resume because the headhunter thought he’d be a good fit for a position. The man said he clicked on the link and was about to enter his personal information when he discovered that the Web address he was sent to was a fake.

JOB SEEKER TIPS

  • Avoid any job that requires you to pay money up front. And never send money by Western Union or Moneygram to someone you don’t know, even if you are sent a check. Fraudulent wire transfers are one of the most common scams.
  • Protect your personal information. Use caution when posting your resume online and take advantage of tools that allow you to hide your contact information. Reputable career websites will provide you with the opportunity to communicate with potential employers via a confidential e-mail address, so that your real e-mail address remains private. Never include your Social Security number, driver’s license or birth date on an online resume or share this information if requested by a prospective employer until you have confirmed that the employer and the job offer are genuine.
  • Don’t click on links sent in e-mails. Check out potential employers with the Better Business Bureau and independently confirm the employer’s identity. It should be a red flag if an employer uses a common e-mail account like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or MSN instead of a corporate domain. Be suspicious, too, if the only provided phone number always goes to voicemail or if the only available contact address is a P.O. box.
  • Secure your computer. Ensure that your computer operating software and anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are updated to detect the latest threats and protect your system.
  • Steer clear of too-good-to-be-true offers that promise large paychecks for few hours of work.

Email scams targeting job seekers

To help you conduct a safer job search, we would like you to know about email scams that have been targeted to job seekers in recent months. There are two types of email scams, commonly known as spoofing and phishing.

Spoofing
Spoof emails often include a fraudulent offer of employment and/or the invitation to serve as a go-between for payment processing or money transfers. This scam is primarily directed at a general audience, but it can also reach job seekers who have included contact information on their résumé.

Payment processing is a common spoofing scheme that is often targeted to people using online services to search for jobs. The scammer uses email messages that include a fraudulent offer of employment. Once the scammer has obtained the victims trust, checks or money orders are sent for "processing". The victim is asked to cash a check or money order, keep a percentage of the funds as payment for their services, and send the balance of the funds back to the scammer. Once the funds are sent, the victim's bank or financial institution learns that the check or money order was fraudulent. The funds are then subtracted from the victim's account and they are made liable for the lost money.

If you think you have been a victim of this scam or other email fraud, you should report the event to your local law enforcement authorities to make them aware of the situation. You may file a report online with the FBI Internet Crimes division at www.ic3.gov. You may also report the event to the WorkSource Washington Help Desk.

Phishing
Phishing emails are used to fraudulently obtain personal identification and account information. They can also be used to lure the recipient into downloading malicious software. The message will often suggest there are issues with the recipient's account that require immediate attention. A link will also be provided to a spoof website where the recipient will be asked to provide personal/account information or download malicious software. WorkSource will never ask you to download software in order to access your account or use our services. For examples of this type of scam, see http://help.monster.com/besafe/email/.

Protecting Your Privacy

If you choose to post your résumé at Go2WorkSource.com, your résumé text and the contact info you select in Step 2, "Contact Information", will be viewable online by registered employers if you choose to enable your résumé for employer search. Any résumé or application you create and save to WorkSource may be hidden from online searches but still be used to apply for jobs. If you do not want your résumé to be included in résumé searches, choose NO for "Enable Search" as you post a new résumé. To disable an existing resume, log in to your MyWorkSource account, select Manage Resumes, choose "None" from the list under "Resumes Enabled for Employer Search", and click on "Update".

When posting your résumé to Go2WorkSource.com, you have the choice of selecting at least one of the "Contact Information" options. To maximize your personal privacy, we suggest that you select "Show E-mail Address" only. You also have the option to keep your contact information anonymous. When you enter your résumé text, it is not necessary to include your address, phone number, or other personal information unless you prefer to have this information shown. If you don't have an e-mail account, the services listed below offer free e-mail accounts. It takes about 15 minutes or less to sign up and get your account.

Yahoo Mail | Hotmail

False job postings
Job postings may be listed online and used to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers. To protect job seekers from false information like this, Go2WorkSource staff review job listings daily. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that all applicable laws and regulations, including the Job Posting Guidelines are followed. If any of the following conditions apply, the job may be removed from the Go2WorkSource database:

  • You are required to pay a significant monetary investment.
  • You are charged a fee.
  • The position you are applying for is involved in a labor dispute.
  • The job listing contains illegal, offensive, or unsuitable content.
  • The job specifications are discriminatory based on sex, national origin or citizenship, religion, language, or age, unless supported by a federal or state law or by a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification.
  • The job site is not within Washington state or the surrounding area.
  • The job listing is vague, redundant, out of date, or inappropriate for some other reason as determined by WorkSource staff or by complaints from users of Go2WorkSource.com.

Contacting employers
Here are some important tips to use when dealing with prospective employers:

  • Do not give your social security number until you have confirmed that the employer and the job offer are genuine, even if they suggest that it is for a "routine background check."
  • Do not provide credit card or bank numbers, or engage in any monetary transactions.
  • Do not provide any non-work related personal information (i.e. social security number, eye color, marital status etc.) over the phone or online.
  • Be cautious when dealing with contacts outside of your own country.

If you see a questionable job posting or website activity or a job that violates our Job Posting Guidelines, you can Contact Us at the Go2WorkSource Help Desk and report it using the Feedback Form.

For more information about protecting your privacy, see Fighting Online Fraud. Additional consumer advice is available at http://antiphishing.org/consumer_recs.html.

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