Ep #44 Spot and Avoid Online Job ScamsMar 29, 2023
Online job scams really chap my hide. Ironically, on the day that I'm recording this episode, which is March 9th, the Social Security Department stated that it's National Slam the Scam Day, which I didn't know was a thing, and, oddly, I'm recording it on the same day without even knowing it.
I think the universe is telling me that I really need to talk about this. Now side note, you can actually report a scam that is related to social security at their website at www.ssa.gov/scam. I didn't know that either, so I wanna cover just a few things today.
Number one, I wanna talk to you about how you should not feel embarrassed or ashamed if this almost happened to you or if it did happen to you.
And number two, I wanna give you some tips for how to avoid these scams.
Let me talk about number one first, and that is that so many people I talk to feel embarrassed or ashamed or just plain dumb. If they fall for a scam, and I wanna set the record straight on this, you should. and you need not feel this way.
Almost everyone I know has almost been caught in a scam or did get caught in one - even me. And that's what I wanna share with you today because I'm good at spotting scams. I see them all over the place, and I've almost been caught in a couple of them. I almost got caught again just a few weeks ago, which really surprised me.
Now, this one was not related to a job search, but I still wanna share it so that you don't feel alone if this happened to you.
I was in a Facebook group, it's a local group in the area where I live, and I saw someone selling Taylor Swift tickets. So Taylor Swift, the Pop Star.
I'm not exactly a Taylor Swift fan, but she's grown on me and I hear she's grading concert. I also know there was a big Ticketmaster debacle when her tickets went on sale and it drove the ticket cost up. Seriously, the average person cannot afford to see Taylor Swift in concert. So when I saw that someone was selling these tickets for a meager $280 each. Choke. I know.
But I jumped on it. I started engaging this person and it was my husband who pointed it out to me that this felt strange. He is very aware of the secondary ticket market, and when I told him that I found these great tickets and they were pretty reasonably priced, he said, I don't know. It just sounds weird to me.
Also at that point, it started to dawn on me that no one would really sell Tswift tickets at a discount when they are very limited and you can make money on them. So, I'm not gonna drag this story out, but the gist is that I caught this person in a scam by trying to get them to leave me a voice message in Facebook messenger.
They refused. I started to add it all up and it just didn't feel right. I moved on, and then I reported that person to the Facebook group manager. if not for my husband, I might have bought those tickets. And I, you know, I, I could be embarrassed about it. I could feel ashamed that, gosh, this almost happened to me, or could have happened to me.
But look, this happens all the time, and it, again, it bothers me. It breaks my heart when I hear stories about it. I've almost had a family member get caught in, a scam which would've cost thousands of dollars an online job scam.
So I do wanna talk about it and help you avoid it, especially because people listening to the show are likely job searching or on these job platforms, and that's where a lot of these scams are.
Here's a common scam that I see all the time. This is by no means all of the ones out there, but I do think this one is one of the most common. So I wanna give you that one first and then I'll give you some other tips. One of the most common ones I see is when someone posts a job. You apply and they write you back in a message.
They don't wanna get on a call with you. There's no video chat. They don't set up a zoom or anything like that. They start texting you or maybe emailing you only. And then what they do is they tell you that you need specific equipment to do the job, like a computer or a laptop and it's a lot of equipment and it's a lot of money.
Thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and then they say they're going to send you a check so that you can use that check to go out and buy this equipment, and all you have to do is provide your bank account information and then they supposedly send you this check when really what they're doing at that point is stealing money from your account.
That's it at a high level. That's the scam. Now you might have seen this out there, and maybe you're thinking why we'd never fall for that. And I get that feeling cuz I, I think that, well, how would I fall for that? But I'm telling you, these people are good and they can convince you to do things you wouldn't normally do because it seems very rational.
Again, there are more than this one scam out there, but this is the one I keep saying over and over again. So let me give you some tips on how to avoid scams in this type of situation, and then I'll give you another set of tips on what you should do. So number one, your gut is going to feel like something is off.
You might not know why. It might not be an obvious thing. It will just feel off. And a lot of people I talk to say that they ran the job by a friend or a family member to see what they thought and to see if it's real. So that's your first clue. If you think you need to run a job by somebody to validate it and make sure it's real, I'm telling you, that's your gut telling you.
Maybe it's not, or there's something weird about it. And oftentimes I hear that when people run it by their family member or friend, their family member or friend also thought it was real. So those people just are not gonna help you. They're no better informed than you are. So your gut, that's a gut reaction that you're having, and I, I want you to just pay attention to it.
Number two, don't share any financial information. Don't share your bank account number. Don't share your routing. Don't share your bank name and don't share any investment information that goes for any kind of financial information you have out there. Don't share any of it. There's no reason to do that with, I don't know, 99.9% of jobs out there.
Now, the caveat to that is if somebody needs to pay you, well, yeah. If you're gonna set up some sort of bank transfer, you know, Zelle or Venmo or something like that, well that makes sense. Now, number three, don't share any personal information like your ID, your social security number, your email address, or even your phone number or where you live.
These are not things you should share, and you definitely should not share them at the very beginning of a potential conversation with this supposed employer. Now, here's what you can do. Okay, so that last list was what not to do. Here's what you can do. First of all, number one, where you look for job opportunities is important.
Now, I love Craigslist because it's a pretty easy place to find jobs, but there are a lot of scams there, so you need to consider what job platforms you're on. So some of the ones like Flex jobs, We Work Remotely, any of the remote ones where you have to pay a little bit of money. They vet jobs, they make sure that no scams get in, or if a scam gets in, they kick it out fast.
So sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you might need to pay a little bit of a membership fee, you know, for a little while you're job searching, just to make sure you don't even come across scams in the first place. Look for clues like spelling errors on the job description and weird grammar.
Do the sentences flow? Does it sound like somebody from here wrote it? Does the job even seem legitimate or is it doing things like hyping, working from home, making money fast, setting your own hours, hardly working at all, but making a lot of money? Those things just sound weird and it's because they probably are.
Does the job listing have an email? Or a website? If it doesn't have an email address or a website or an address of any kind, it's probably suspicious. Research the company on something like Glassdoor. That's a website. That way you can validate if this company is a real company or business, and you can also see what the employees say about it because lots of people will talk on glass.
And lastly, if you've gone through all of the steps I just listed and you feel like this is a real opportunity, then you could submit your resume. Now that's another clue. If they don't ask for a resume from you or LinkedIn or some other piece of work. Maybe it's something you've written. If it's a writing job, maybe it's some little graphic design.
If it's a graphic design job, if they're not asking you for anything. , that's also a bit suspicious because how do they know you're a good fit right now? That's not always the case. If you're doing gig work, maybe they don't ask you for anything. I've done gig work where they've asked me for nothing, but I've gone through all the other steps on this list to make sure that I don't accidentally end up in a conversation where someone might try to scam me.
Let me conclude with this: it is discouraging that scams exist and people will try to take advantage of you. But my best guidance to you is really paying attention to your gut. It's better to move on to a real job than get caught up in a job that you just feel kind of weird about. And if it feels too good to be true it probably is.
And lastly, again, if this already happened to you, I am so sorry. This literally breaks my heart. Remember though, you're not alone and if you're beating yourself up over it, just stop and move on. The good news is there are more real jobs and freelance opportunities than there are scams. Stay focused on that silver lining.
and keep your radar up for the scams at the same time. Thanks for listening. check out the last episode in this series #45 to learn ways to calculate how much money you need to make in regular employment versus freelancing or starting a business.