KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With millions of people out of work due to the pandemic, scammers are targeting job seekers and many of those who fall victim end up providing the scammers with personal information.
We often report that people over 65 are most vulnerable to being conned, but it’s younger people who are more likely to fall victim to work scams. There are a number of scams aimed at those seeking jobs, many involve identity theft and payments using fake checks. The contact is primarily made by either email or text message. Victims report that they have applied for several jobs online, and often believe the contact is a result of those online efforts.
The Better Business Bureau reports that an estimated 14 million people are exposed to employment scams every year, the average loss is $1,000, and $2 billion is lost annually nationwide. In East Tennessee, more than 7,000 scams have been reported according to BBB.
“This is a Facebook, they got a Facebook ad, a 9 to 5 job, that says they can make over 10-thousand dollars a month. They ended up losing 98-hundred dollars,” said Tony Binkley with BBB. “So, if you see a job offer the best this to do is go to the company’s website and confirm that that job offer is real. Even some of the most famous job sites that are out there, Indeed, and things like that are reporting a lot of scams from their sites. So, you just have to make sure this job is real before you start giving out personal information.”
A recent study found that women accounted for 66.7% of job scam complaints. The age group most targeted at 28% are those between 25 and 34, 22% are age 35 to 44 and 17% are between 18 and 24.
“Studies show that 30% of the people, sometimes as high as 50%, give out their driver’s license and social security numbers to people they don’t even know. That’s all they want (the scammers). If they get that, they get access to your account,” said Binkley.
The BBB uses a site called Scam Tracker to collect information on scams. You can also report a scam on the website.
“A lot of this stuff truly is organized crime. It is organized crime from West Africa, it’s been well documented. This is real stuff. It is not somebody just trying to get a few hundred dollars, this is an organization this is trying to get thousands of dollars from you,” said Binkley.
In the BBB report, the largest number of victims believed that they were being hired by some of the countries biggest companies like Walmart or Amazon. Amazon states it has warnings about job scams using its name. Amazon says it posts all job opportunities at Amazon Jobs and does not require anyone to purchase equipment or pay initiation fees.
Walmart reports that all jobs it has available can be checked out at its website and advises any job seeker to only trust emails that are from Walmart.com. If you are suspicious of an online job offer, go to either Google or visit Scam Tracker to check it out.