The Better Business Bureau for Western Ontario has a message for students on the hunt for summer work: be aware of scams.

Deborah Brady, president of the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) chapter, said scammers take advantage of what's going on at a particular time, and since summer positions are becoming a hot commodity, novice-job seekers are the current target.

"They're going to scam the students and try and trick them into giving away financial information," Brady said. 

How some scams work

Paying for a job opportunity, she said, is a common scam.

"Scammers usually find you online — where students live — and they'll send you an e-mail or you'll see a pop-up advertisement of a job that is a 'great opportunity' and 'pays very well' and requires little skill and experience," said Brady. 

The perspective employee is asked to pay for administrative work or a background check, typically items the employer takes care of, she said. The scam employer often asks for financial information and a Social Insurance Number. 

"Once they get this information, then they have access to your financial history and can fraudulently access your accounts and clean you out," she said. 

Brady said scams can come in many forms, including work that seems fair. She said she received a phone call last year from a concerned grandfather who said his grandson had a job that sounded too good to be true: going door-to-door to solicit money for a well-known charity.

"When we did a little checking we discovered the charity name wasn't exactly what the well known charity was. Just a little bit of a difference," she said. 

When the young employee turned his money into his manager, none of it would actually go to the well-known charity, the donor would not receive a tax receipt and the student never got paid.

5 tips to spot red flags 

  • Any job that offers a high salary with minimal effort, or a cushy situation like working from home, could be too good to be true
  • Do an online search. A company without an "online footprint" is a bad sign. 
  • Contact the company directly. Find out the name and title with the person responsible for hiring. Even better — have a conversation with that person.
  • Check for spelling and grammar errors in job postings. Those errors are signs the company may not be legitimate.
  • If you're asked to provide personal financial information, like credit card numbers, your SIN or back account information, steer clear.