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Labor shortage creates opening for job scammers

12 Scams of Christmas
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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 13, 2021

BALTIMORE — A labor shortage has led to millions of job openings, which means workers have more options.

Companies like Amazon and UPS are on hiring sprees. Recently, both businesses announced they're hiring over a hundred thousand seasonal workers. And while sign-on bonuses or other incentives are becoming more common, they’re also being used as bait in many job scams.

“They immediately hire you without really interviewing you, asking you questions,” said Angie Barnett, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving greater Maryland.

Pay can also be a good indicator of whether a job posting is real or not.

“They’re going to lure you in with high pay. If it’s a job that’s normally $15-18 an hour and they’re suddenly offering you $25 or $30 an hour that’s a warning flag,” added Barnett.

The FBI has seen job seekers being used as money mules.

“A person is hired and then sent a large check for $4,000 - 5,000 to set up their home office. The check is sent for too large of an amount, so they cash the check, which of course turns out to be fraudulent, and then they forward a chunk of that money onto the bad guy. And they’re stuck once the bank figures out it’s no good,” said Keith Custer, supervisory special agent with the FBI Baltimore field office.

And once they offer you the job, they’ll send over employment paperwork as a ruse to steal personal information.

“Names, Social Security Number, bank account and routing number, all of that information, which is normal to provide to an employer,” said Custer.

Except in job scams, this information is used to steal identities.

The Federal Trade Commission provided the below information to better protect job seekers from these kind of scams:

  • Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You might find out they’ve scammed other people.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think? This also helps give you vital time to think about the offer.
  • Don't pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send on part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam. The check will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the amount of the fake check.