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Employment scams are on the rise in the turbulent job market created by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Better Business Bureau (BBB) study finds.

BBB warns job seekers to verify employment offers to avoid illegal jobs, identity theft and fake checks to which millions are exposed annually.

Job scams have been a problem for years. In 2020, BBB estimated 14 million victims with $2 billion in direct losses related to job scams. Last year, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust found job scams to be the riskiest of all the scams they tracked in 2018 and 2019. However, BBB’s study finds that the problem worsened in 2020. Losses reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) about employment scams were up 27 percent between 2018 and 2020, while complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) nearly doubled in 2020.

This type of fraud most commonly victimized people ages 25-34, with women filing 67 percent of complaints. The median financial loss reported by these victims was $1,000; in addition, they often reported loss of their time, as 32 percent were never paid for the work they did for an “employer” that turned out to be fraudulent.

Tips to avoid job scams:

  • Research the job offer. Call or go directly to the actual company's website for contact information to verify the job posting.
  • Check on businesses at BBB.org if they claim to be offering jobs.
  • Do an internet search with the name of the employer and the word “scam” to see if there are reports involving job scams.
  • Consider setting up a second bank account simply to handle pay for jobs where you have never met the employer in person.
  • Be wary of vague job descriptions.
  • 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. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.

It is important that victims of job scams report them to:

Better Business Bureau - BBB.org or BBB.org/scamtracker.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - reportfraud.ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-Help.

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - ic3.gov/complaint.

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