College students continue to be targeted by employment scam

VICTORIA, Texas–With the spring semester in full swing, college students across Texas are getting back into the groove of classes and studying. And, many students hold part-time jobs while attending school; unfortunately, scammers see this as an opportunity to target them.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), scammers post fake online job advertisements on college employment websites, or students receive job recruiting messages to their student email accounts. Typically, the job sounds very convincing.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers will charge upfront fees for services or training materials. They claim they can guarantee job placement after you pay; however, the promised job never materializes and the business doesn’t return your calls. If you need to pay first to get the job or have to provide your credit card or bank account number, that’s a red flag.

In Texas, more than 200 employment-related scams across the state have been reported to BBB Scam Tracker since 2016. In addition, BBB has received more than 2,000 reports of employment scams nationwide, totaling more than $10.8 million in losses. Texans have reported losing more than $40,000 to this scam.

Better Business Bureau offers students the following advice to avoid falling victim to an employment scam:

Research the business first. If a company or organization is mentioned in an ad or interview, contact that company directly to find out if the company is really hiring through the service. When using social networking sites and online employment sites, be sure to check the website of the company posting the advertisement. Many scammers use names that are similar to reputable companies to trick job seekers. Be cautious when responding to unsolicited emails. Even if the business name is well-known, don’t click on any links in the email until you’ve verified the business and can confirm that the email came from a legitimate source. Legitimate employers will need Social Security numbers for tax purposes and may need a bank account number to deposit paychecks for new employees, but be wary of any requests for such information from companies that you haven’t met with in person. Don’t pay upfront fees. No legitimate job offer will require out of pocket expenses from a potential employee for background checks, credit reports or administrative fees before an interview. If an employer wants you to pay–even if they say it’s for certification or training materials–don’t do business with them. Additionally, job seekers should never provide bank account information until they have officially been hired. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. If anyone you don’t know asks you to wire money, that’s an automatic red flag. Scammers know it’s extremely difficult to track money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union. Once money is sent via a wire transfer, it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. Even if you’ve been given a check to cover the amount you’re wiring, never send money to someone you don’t know personally. The check could be fraudulent, leaving you liable for the money. Protect your documents. Keep important personal and financial documents safe, and store them under lock and key. Consider keeping sensitive documents–like your birth certificate or Social Security card–in a safe deposit box or at home with parents. Also, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as your parents’ home or a post office box. School mailboxes aren’t always secure and can often be accessed easily in a dorm or apartment. Always shred paper documents that include personal financial information such as your bank account number, credit card and Social Security number, and any credit card offers that come in the mail. Be wary of the “perfect offer.” Job seekers should be cautious of any posting advertising extremely high pay for short hours or minimal required experience. Remember, legitimate businesses don’t make promises or guarantees about jobs. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have been targeted by a job scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC and your local BBB. To find or report a scam, visit BBB Scam Tracker.