Looking for a work-from-home job? Here’s how to know if it’s real or a scam

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Seeing a lot of work from home job posts lately?

It’s great that employers are adjusting to the current state of things. But aside from employers, scammers could also be taking advantage of the situation to lure you into giving away your personal information or money.

Job scams are on the rise during the pandemic according to Jeff Thomson, senior RCMP intelligence analyst at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. “With more people losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking work, as well as shifting to doing business primarily online, it’s sort of ripe for job scams right now,” Thomson said in an interview with CBC news.

“With more people losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking work, as well as shifting to doing business primarily online, it’s sort of ripe for job scams right now”

The most commonly used fake positions are: secret shopper, warehouse and redistribution coordinator, COVID-19 inspector, customer service representative and human resources assistant. About 65% of fake job offers involved reshipment of packages and the most impersonated companies are Amazon, followed by Walmart.

If you are currently job hunting, here are some tips to check if a post is real or a scam:

  1. Look at how the job ad looks like

    If it has tons of grammatical and spelling errors, hanging sentences and a haphazardly designed layout, it’s most probably a scam.

    But beware of the more sophisticated scammer. A new tactic is using a legitimate job post and directing the applicant to a duplicated website. These are phishing scams that lure you into providing personal and bank account information. To prevent yourself from becoming a victim, always check the URL (website address) and see if it matches the web address of the company. Click on some links on the site to see if they are working. Scammers can create official looking websites but usually, it’s all on the surface. You may discover that interactive elements do not work and text is repeated everywhere (for example, a paragraph that describes the company is the same paragraph used for each section). Other tell-tale signs include the use of free stock photos, an invalid security certificate (click on the padlock icon near the URL to check) and no contact details. If a company address is provided on the page, use Google Maps to see if the building exists and the company is really housed there.

  2. Go to the company’s official website

    Search for the company’s website on Google (don’t click on the company page link on the job ad) and go there to verify if the job opening is real. This is usually in the “Careers” or “Work with us” page. Look for other contact details on the page like the physical address, phone number and email address. Call the company directly and ask if the opportunity is open.

  3. Research and consult a professional

    Research on the company especially if it’s not well known. Check BBB and make a Google search. Check the news for common scams or go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to be aware of recent scams and frauds. You might find the scheme listed there or the name of the company the fraudsters are using.

    If you’re still not sure, consult a career coach from Manitoba Start, Success Skills Centre and other immigrant-serving organizations. These experts provide free pre-employment assistance and career coaching to newcomers to Manitoba.

  4. Check the job offer itself

    Scam job posts have one or more of the following characteristics:

    • The offer is unclear. Either the job title is vague or there is no description of the responsibilities. Be suspicious if they ask you to attend a workshop or seminar to know more about the job offer. It could be network marketing for a pyramid scheme.
    • No interviews. There will be a quick interview or none at all. You’ll be hired right away. You won’t even be asked for credentials.
    • Extremely high salary . You’ll be offered a high rate and several perks like paid time off, free trips, even freebies like gadgets or gift cards.
    • Use of bitcoins (and other crypto currencies), gift cards and cheques – Salary payment and other transactions (usually money transfers) will be done using these instruments. These are used in money laundering and cash-out schemes because these are harder to track.
  5. Listen to your intuition

    Is the employer in a rush? Is there something in the way the contact person deals with you that is unusual? If something doesn’t add up, don’t commit or provide personal information. Don’t let your guard down even if you really need a job. Keep asking questions and don’t be scared to ask for proof or documentation when appropriate. You can say no at any time.

Don’t get scammed!

  1. Use legitimate job sites. Scammers troll job boards looking for victims. Go to job sites that have privacy policies and where only verified employers are allowed to view the listings.
  2. Don’t provide personal information like your SIN or bank account numbers.
  3. Know your job profile. Know the prevailing pay rate for your job and the usual education and skill requirements. Knowing these will help you evaluate if the job offer is legitimate or not. Use the Job Bank. to know your job profile.
  4. Don’t provide payment. It’s a major red flag when an employer asks you to pay for training and training materials or asks you invest an amount of money in order to be hired. No legitimate job asks for payment before you start.
  5. Don’t click links. Never click on attachments or links from unsolicited emails or texts. These are gateways to malware and viruses that can track your personal information.
  6. Report. Report fraudulent posts to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the Competition Bureau. This will help law enforcement crack down on these fraudsters and prevent others from being scammed.

It’s a tough job market out there so stay smart. Be optimistic in your job search and persevere. Goodluck!
Sources: Top 10 job scam warning signs, Alison Doyle, The Balance; Better Business Bureau warning about these work-at-home scams, Pat Foran, CTV News; I applied for an employment scam”, Rebecca Balakrishnan, The Manitoban; Phishing.org; and Fraudsters create fake company, steal foreign website to victimize job seekers, Nicole Ireland and William Wolfe-Wylie, CBC News. Accessed October 19, 2020.

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