With unemployment at record lows, you'd think scammers would have better things to do with their time. Not so: According to the Better Business Bureau, reported employment scams have more than doubled in the past year, to a total of 3,700. That's a lot of well-meaning people out of what money they do have.
We like to think of ourselves as pretty sophisticated, but more of us fall for a good con than we care to admit. Chargeback scams have been reported on mobile banking apps like Venmo, while nearly 10 percent of renters under age 30 have lost money to rental scammers. Now the gig economy has made the waters ripe for employment scams. It's the perfect environment, especially if you communicate with employers solely online. Throw in seasonal hiring and getting tricked becomes much more understandable.
Largely what scammers are after is personal information. If you're communicating with someone who wants your Social Security Number or a "one-time fee" for uniforms, there's a strong likelihood that you need to dig deeper into that employer. There are concrete steps you can take to check how legit a company is, which may be necessary even if you've found the opportunity through a verified job-hunting website. If your contact claims to represent a large corporation, be sure their information comes from a recognized domain (such as target.com) rather than a copycat URL (like target.co.tk). It's annoying to be so suspicious, but it's even more aggravating to chase down money or data that rightfully belongs to you.