Job applicant scams are rampant these days
*Be on alert if contacted by “James Keen” or “Blake Wall” from “Writers Avenue”. These are scammers!
**Also, to my fellow Floridians: You should know that according to many reports (USA Today, Huffington Post) Florida is ranked #1 for scammers. Perhaps it’s the price we pay for all the free sunshine.
One would think the scammers of the world would choose not to target job seekers. After all, many job seekers are economically challenged, otherwise why would they be seeking a new or better job? Also, job seekers tend to have a certain degree of vulnerability. You’re putting yourself out there to face scrutiny and possible rejection… and now I suppose scammers.
Most of us want to believe that people are generally good and have honest intentions. Not only that but you and me are good, honest and decent people. Who would want to hurt little ol’ you and me?
The truth is that scammers don’t think about you or your problems. In fact they don’t think about you much at all. You and me are merely vehicles toward a better financial future for them. They can use or sell your information as quick as you can hit the send/submit button on your application. However, most likely they will do a little more work and try to target your friends and family as well. Nice, eh?
It can happen to the best of us, too, especially freelancer writers who tend to be frequently looking for gigs.
Here are some things I’ve grown weary of and have learned to watch out for.
Tip #1: Anonymous employer
Stop submitting applications to anonymous employers. Just stop. Now.
I know it’s tempting, but just don’t do it anymore. In the “old days” a company might choose to remain anonymous for various reasons–perhaps they didn’t want to alert Joe Dirt that his slacking off days at the company were coming to an end.
Unfortunately, with the number of scammers sharply increasing, the old way of doing things has to stop. Make it a point to only apply to jobs when an employer is completely verifiable through a company website or at least a legitimate-appearing Facebook page.
I have my suspicions that at least 50% of the job posts on Craigslist are posted by scammers–at least here in Florida, aka, scam central.
Tip #2: Suspected fake names
We live in the social media age. Even grandma and grandpa are getting on board now. It helps them keep track of their industrious children and grand children, not to mention people they haven’t talked to since attending grade school in Oklahoma as a military brat.
What I mean to say is that just about everyone has a social media account or profile of some sort these days. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, etc. If, let’s say, a man named James Keen or Blake Wall (from Writers Avenue for instance) contacts you with some kind of promising employment. If you conduct a social media search and do not find any corresponding information about who they purport themselves to be, be very suspicious.
If they try and make the claim that they are just getting their company started, think to yourself, wouldn’t they want to engage in social media as much as they could to boost their legitimate business endeavors. New business owners are eager to share such things and attract a clientele/following. Being secretive is a sign that something is just not right.
Tip #3: Free email accounts
This can be tricky, I myself tend to use my generic, and free, yahoo account quite a bit. Then again, I’m not currently trying to employ anyone either.
If someone is using an account from a generic free email service be wary. A legitimate employer should have no problem verifying who they are by sending you an email from their company email account.
Tip #4: Downloading…. please wait
This should be a no-brainer, still sometimes our own brains betray us. As a rule I don’t download anything, no matter how tempting it might be. Still, downloading a document from a potential employer would seem to be ok.
All I can say is use your virus protection software, keep it up to date and if it alerts you to a potential threat, take it seriously. It’s true that legitimate stuff sometimes gets flagged by virus software, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that every alert will be like that. Err on the side of caution and make sure what you’re downloading is safe.