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What You Need To Know To Protect Yourself From Job Scams

  • Security
  • February 2019
  • Premier America

It can often feel like fraudsters are lurking around every corner, just waiting for their next target. One way they try to take advantage of unsuspecting victims is through job scams that provide fraudsters with sensitive data that allows them to gain access to your existing accounts or create new ones in your name. Common scams include:

  • Unsolicited job offer scams
  • Make easy money, no experience required scams
  • Secret shopper scams
Unfortunately, if you fall for one, you could experience financial losses you may not be able to recover. To help protect yourself from becoming a victim, here are a few things you should know.

How do they work?

Fraudsters send emails listing job openings to individuals, or they post ads to online job boards (e.g. Craigslist) and social media sites. In general, if you respond to one of these ads, all communication will be conducted via email, although you may be asked to complete a phone interview or video chat.
When the scam artist offers you a “job,” they’ll ask for a variety of personal and financial information, so they can “onboard” you as an “employee” and set up direct deposit for your “paycheck.” Information they may request includes: 
  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Credit union name
  • Account numbers
  • Routing numbers
  • Debit card and PIN
  • User name and password to online/mobile banking
  • Driver’s license
  • Social security card
  • Passport

What happens after you’re “hired”?

What happens next depends on the type of job scam the fraudster is using. Here’s what you can expect for a couple of common scenarios.
Unsolicited job offer or make easy money, no experience required scam
The fraudster will often send you a check to deposit into your bank account. You’ll be asked to email a picture of your deposit slip or ATM receipt to the scammer to authorize payment of the check.
Then, they’ll contact you to let you know you were overpaid and need to return the excess amount via money transfer. Because the check is fraudulent, when you transfer the “excess funds,” you’ll give them your hard-earned money.
If you provided the log-in information to your online/mobile banking during the “onboarding” process, instead of receiving a check in the mail, the fraudster may tell you he’s using remote deposit to deposit the funds into your account. He then deposits the check and makes person-to-person transfers to himself with money from your account.
If you provided your debit card and PIN, he’ll tell you he’s depositing your paycheck into your account. Then use your debit card to make purchases with your money.

Secret Shopper Scam

You’ll receive a check to deposit into your bank account, and you’ll be asked to email a picture of your deposit slip or ATM receipt to the fraudster to authorize payment of the check. You’ll also get your secret shopping assignment, where you’ll be asked to make purchases at various stores. And “shop” the money transfer services by sending the remaining money from the check you deposited to a specific person.

Can You Recover Your Money?

Unfortunately, in many cases you’re stuck with any financial losses you experience. If you deposit a fraudulent check into your account and use or transfer some or all the funds from it, you’re liable for the money that was used. 
Furthermore, when you share your online/mobile banking credentials or give out your debit card and PIN numbers, you’re authorizing access to your accounts and any transactions that may take place.
To make matters worse, the fraudster may have enough information to withdraw additional funds from your account not related to your “job” or open new deposit accounts, lines of credit or loans in your name.
And if the login credentials you provided are similar to your other online accounts, they may be able to figure out how to access those as well.

What Should You Do if You’ve Been The Victim of a Job Scam?

If you’ve been the victim of a job scam, consider closing your existing accounts to prevent additional fraudulent activity. Be sure to consult your financial institution before taking this action.
It’s also a good idea to update your user names and passwords for all your online accounts to prevent unauthorized access. And freezing your credit by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies or ChexSystems may help prevent new credit accounts from being created in your name. You can also monitor your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to see if any new accounts have been opened.