Fake job scams on the rise during pandemic, warns the Better Business Bureau
Reports from scammed job seekers nearly doubled across the country last year
Employment scams targeting job seekers in a turbulent pandemic job market are on the rise, according to a study conducted by the Better Business Bureau.
In an emailed statement Thursday, the BBB said job scams have been around for years, that in 2019 there were an estimated 14 million victims resulting in $2 billion in direct losses related to job scams and that the problem worsened in 2020.
In fact, complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre nearly doubled in 2020, and job scams were also in the top five of BBB's list of riskiest scams across Canada.
In British Columbia, the bureau said there has been an increase in reports about job scams with a cryptocurrency twist.
In a comment sent to the BBB's Scam Tracker website, a West Vancouver job seeker reported being sent money on the first day of a new job and being asked to withdraw it, then make a deposit in a designated Bitcoin ATM with the promise of a payment of $3,000 once the task was carried out, the statement said.
When the job seeker questioned the task, the employer disappeared.
The study found that this fraud most commonly victimized people aged 25-34, with women comprising 67 per cent of complaints.
In addition, victims often reported loss of their time, as 32 per cent were never paid for the work they did for an "employer" that turned out to be fraudulent.
The median financial loss reported in the Canadian Risk Report was $500, it said.
Tips to avoid job scams
The bureau said identity theft is also a common outcome of job scams, as scammers often steal job seekers' personal information to open bank accounts to further their fraud, and that 34 per cent of victims provided their driver's licence number and 25 per cent provided their social insurance number.
- Research the job offer by calling or going directly to the actual company's website for contact information to verify the job posting.
- Check on businesses offering jobs at BBB.org.
- Do an internet search with the name of the employer and the word "scam" to see if there are reports involving job scams.
- Examine the email address of those offering jobs to see if it matches the protocols used by an actual company.
- Beware of businesses that use a Gmail email address.
- Consider creating a separate email address when posting a resumé on job boards or applying for jobs, which can help detect scam employers.
- Consider setting up a second bank account simply to handle pay for jobs where you have never met the employer in person.
- Never pay for the promise of a job; it's most likely a scam.
- Be wary of mystery shopping, secret shopper positions or work-from-home jobs that involve receiving and reshipping packages. These are likely scams.
- Be cautious of jobs that involve receiving and forwarding money.
- Never provide personal information such as your full address, birth date or financial information in your resumé or to unverified recruiters and online applications.
- Do not respond to calls, text messages or emails from unknown numbers or suspicious addresses.
- Do not click any links in a text message from a number you do not recognize.