COLORADO SPRINGS — People looking to get back to work, or who are maybe are in search of a better job are becoming prime targets for fraudsters behind costly unemployment scams. News 5 shows us some things to think about during your next job search that could help you avoid trouble.
Right now employment experts tell News5 there are more job opportunities out there than people who are applying to work. So it's up to employers to attract applicants, but those extra incentives that used to be too good to be true are creating an opening for fraudsters.
Employment scams are being reported to the Federal Trade Commission in record numbers since the start of the pandemic aiming to steal personal information or money from people looking for a new job. Fraud experts say the people behind these schemes will often extend job offers through social media platforms, emails, and even text messages and about 80% of the time the fraudsters will contact their targets first.
"They come at you with some enticing things talking about the job hours and pay and then they actually bring you in. So actually only about 20% are initiated by the job seeker. So, that's the first thing. If you receive an unsolicited email, text, or call focusing on this area," say CSU Global's "Dr. Fraud" J. Michael Skiba.
Here are some expert tips for avoiding employment scams:
- Never pay for anything with your money during the hiring process.
- If someone calls you about a job, call the company's HR department to confirm they're hiring.
- Search for company's address to see if it actually exists.
- Search the name of the company followed by complaint or scam.
The Pikes Peak Workforce Center says one of the places you can safely look for job postings is connectingcolorado.com where employers have been thoroughly vetted.
"There's a lot of different checks and balances that we have to do as a federal agency to make sure the job postings we have on connectingcolorado.com are real," said Traci Marques of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
Katerina Taleska says a company reached out to her through Indeed. She reported her experience to the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado after realizing being asked to buy equipment as part of a job offer seemed fishy.
"The fact they wanted me to go on this website and pay for them myself was a little sketchy. Then, when I asked about the reimbursement process they had told me it would take up to 3 months for them to reimburse me for their equipment that I was working on. At that point I knew it was a complete scam," said Katerina Taleska, who was trying to find a job recently. "I know that you're looking for a job. This is something you should be aware of. I mean, even the littlest thing just to get it out there. Word of mouth is huge."
She is not alone in this experience. Here's a look at employment scams by the numbers. The BBB recently reported employment scams are the 2nd riskiest scams for consumers. Phony job scams are being reported to the FTC at record levels since the pandemic began. From January to September of last year consumers reported losing 150 million dollars to these types of scams.
Remember, no legitimate company will ever send you a check and then tell you to send them part of that money, or ask for gift cards. This is when you lose money. It's a scam.
If you need help with your job search or have questions for employment professionals you can contact the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
The experts say you can safely search for job openings here:
If you encounter an employment scam during your job search you can report those details to reportfraud.ftc.gov
For additional resources, advice, and ways to report Colorado specific job scam concerns visit stopfraudcolorado.gov