Protect Yourself on the Internet
Internet email is NOT a secure method of communication. Any information you send in an unencrypted Internet email message can be intercepted and read by someone other than the intended recipient. Never send bank account information, credit card numbers, your full social security number, or any other sensitive information by Internet email unless it is encrypted.
Protect Yourself from Bogus Employment Offers
- Be wary of any employer offering employment without an interview, either in person or by phone.
- Be wary of employers who can be contacted only by email, and don't or won't provide a mailing address and telephone number.
- Be wary of any employer who charges a fee to either employ you, or find employment for you. Charging a fee is prohibited under the Alabama Joblink Employer Use Policy. If an employer attempts to charge a fee for a job that was listed on Alabama Joblink, please email the details to Alabama Joblink at JobLink@JobLink.Alabama.gov.
- Do not provide your social security number or any other sensitive information to an employer unless the employer has made a commitment to hire you, and doing so is part of the actual hiring orientation.
- Research the employer to ensure authenticity by contacting the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy.
- Avoid vague job offers. If the employer is not willing to specifically describe the position, during the interview, be very careful. Be sure to get specific salary, benefits, and other pertinent information if you are offered a job.
- Be cautious of exaggerated claims of potential earnings.
- Be wary when replying to unsolicited emails for any employment, especially work-at-home employment.
- Create a unique, temporary, free email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, for each website where you post a resume. You can have emails from the new account forwarded to your real personal email address. If you start getting bogus job offers, you can determine from which site these bogus job offers originate and report them to the web site operator.
- Be cautious of employers who conduct their interviews in a home setting or in motel rooms unless you are confident that the employer is legitimate.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
Common Employment Scams
- Envelope Stuffing - These scams usually ask for a registration fee that must be paid before work begins. Once the registration fee has been paid, you are told to place an advertisement in a local newspaper, using your contact information. The advertisement is usually the same advertisement to which you replied. Once you receive a response to the advertisement, you are told to fill an envelope with instructions on how to start and mail it to the new applicant. The scammer says your fees will be based upon how many responses you get for the advertisement you placed.
- Lists of Work-At-Home Jobs - These are offers to purchase lists of companies that are hiring for work-at-home positions. Be very careful before purchasing these lists because they are often inaccurate.
- Medical Billing - Advertisements for these jobs always ask for an initial financial investment. The advertisement will wrongly say that a small percentage of medical claims are transmitted electronically and that the market for medical billing is wide open. The reality is that the market is well established. Be very wary of these advertisements.
- Check Cashing Scams begin with an email offering a job as a secret shopper, or as someone who transfers funds internationally. The scammer tries to reassure the victim of the legitimacy of the position by offering documents which have no value, such as forged or false documents bearing company letterhead, fake contracts, fake letters of credit, payment schedules and bank drafts.
- After receiving a response from the victim, checks, money orders or wire deposits will be sent to the victim for "processing" or for use as a deposit while "secret shopping" a local bank. The victim will be asked to cash the check or money order and send a percentage of the funds back to the scammers. Once the funds are sent back to the scammers (usually the victim is told to keep a percentage for themselves, as payment for their services) the victim's bank or financial institution learns that the check/money order/wire transfer was fraudulent. The funds are then subtracted from the victim's account and they are made liable for the lost money.
- Reshipping Scams target work-at-home moms or other people trying to supplement their income. These scams begin with an employment offer, usually via email, to the victim. As with check cashing scams, they offer legitimate-looking contracts and other documentation to make them appear legitimate. Packages are then shipped to the victim's residence, with instructions to repackage the goods, and reship the packages to another address. Once the package has been reshipped, the victim is "guilty" of receiving and shipping stolen property. The police then get involved, as the return address is that of the victim.
- Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) - Also known as Pyramid Schemes, these involve recruiting new members to earn money. Although there are legitimate MLM businesses, these are based on selling products or a service. When the money earned is based primarily on finding new recruits, it is usually an illegal pyramid scheme.
More Information on Internet Fraud and Scams
While the information above is to inform you of some of the most common schemes, others may exist. See the links below for more information on Internet frauds and scams: