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Buyers Tips

Scams Against Job Seekers

Job seekers beware! Bogus foreign companies advertise help wanted ads in newspapers and Web sites like Craigslist.com Monster.com, CareerBuilders.com and Yahoo HotJobs. The ads claim to be looking for an "import/export specialist"; "mail manager"; "gift wrapper"; "marketing manager" or "financial manager." Job seekers are either asked to forward money from one account to another or to reship stolen merchandise to overseas companies as part of their employment duties. Consumers who respond to the ads are told that the employer is in a foreign country and needs an American contact to handle its business in the U.S., or the scammer fraudulently diguises themself as being a reputable American company.

In one scenario, a job applicant is hired to repackage and reship merchandise to a foreign company. What the applicant did not know is that the merchandise was ordered from mail order companies or Internet auction sites, but was purchased with a stolen or fake credit card.

In another scenario, a job seeker is hired to collect payments from clients in the U.S. and in turn wire the money to a company located overseas. The employee was instructed to keep a percentage of the money as his or her pay. The employee later found out that the collected payments were for non-existent merchandise sold through online auction sites. Auction bidders, would bid on an item and send in their payment to the seller, only to find out later that the merchandise never existed.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to help job seekers avoid these types of scams:

*Avoid job listings that use these descriptions: "package forwarding"; "reshipping"; "money transfers"; "wiring funds"; and "foreign agent agreements." These and similar phrases should raise a red flag.

*Do not be fooled by official-sounding corporate names. Some scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms. Best Buy's name was used in a recent reshipping scam, for example.

*Never forward or transfer money from any of your personal accounts on behalf of your employer. Also, be suspicious if you are asked to "wire" money to an employer. If a legitimate job requires you to make money transfers, the money should be withdrawn from the employer's business account, not yours.

*Do not give out your personal financial information. A potential legitimate employer will not request your bank account, credit card or Paypal account number. Only provide your banking information if you are hired by a legitimate company and you choose to have your paycheck direct deposited.

*Do not fax copies of your ID or Social Security number to someone you have never met. Credit checks and fake IDs can be obtained with this information. Only give these documents to your employer when you are physically at the place of employment and have verified that they are a reputable company.

*Do not obtain your credit report for a job through a source provided by the supposed employer. If the employer requires you to provide your credit report as part of the application process, get it directly from www.annualcreditreport.com which is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that's yours by law. If an employer requires you to obtain a credit report through any other source, the BBB advises you to refrain as this may be an attempt to steal your identity.

*Do not ever send money to a company in exchange for a job position. In scams, fees can be requested for "information kits"; "administrative costs"; "materials", etc. This usually ends up with the customer receiving nothing, or not receiving what they expected and not being able to get their money back.

*Beware of wholesale perfume companies. They have a bad reputation for posting misleading job listings, not paying employees and distributing low quality knock-offs on the street.

*If you have questions about the legitimacy of a job listing, contact your Better Business Bureau, your state or local consumer agency or the Federal Trade Commission.

keywords: employment, work, jobs

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