How to Avoid Job Applicant Credit Report Scams
There are many scams out there on the internet, but some of the cruelest are job scams. Job seekers are presumably looking for work in part because they need money, and along comes a scammer to build up their hopes and steal their resources.
Among the most common job scams are credit report scams. You’ll find these on Craiglist and other job sites and boards. To avoid falling for them, learn to recognize the signs of credit report scams, as well as of job scams generally. (And just in case, we’ll also teach you how to report job applicant credit report scams, so that you can protect your identity.)
How Job Applicant Credit Report Scams Work
Typically, the scammer poses as an employer asking to see your credit report as part of the hiring process. The “employer” requests that you use a specific “free” service that ends up costing you money. In addition, the scammer can collect your personal information and steal your identity.
Credit Report Scam Examples
To avoid being tricked, it helps to know what these scams look like. Here are some examples of credit report scams from Craiglist. These were sent by email to job applicants who responded to job postings on Craiglist.
- We would like to take this moment to thank you for your response to our Craigslist job posting, as well as inform you that, after reading through your resume, we are interested in discussing this job opportunity with you in person. In order to proceed to the next step of the hiring process, you will need to get your credit score checked.
- We have arranged a FREE service for you to obtain your score. Once you have completed this process, please email me the confirmation # ASAP, so we can move forward.
More Credit Scams
Other scammers will ask you to send personal items such as your license, a utility bill, or your Social Security Number along with an application, or even before sending an application.
All of these items are forms of identification and can, therefore, be used by scammers to either open new accounts or access your current account.
Never give these items to an employer before you have met in person and/or thoroughly checked into the company's background.
What to Do If You Have Been Scammed
If you have already sent personal information to an employer, and believe it was a scam, get a copy of your credit report immediately and review your bills and payments.
To get a free credit report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to select your free reports. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you’re entitled to a free report every year. Note: this is the only way to get your free annual credit report. Other sites or services generally require you to pay a charge, either up front or over time – even if the word “free” is in their name.
In addition to monitoring your credit, you should report the scam. File a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Federal Trade Commission, and/or the Better Business Bureau. You can also report the scammers to the site on which you found the ad. Job sites and boards have contact pages, and many have dropdowns on their contact form specifically for reporting fraudulent listings.
Warning Signs of Job Scams
While classic scams will pop up again and again, there will also always be new frauds and fakes out there waiting to take you in. To protect yourself against job scams, learn to recognize the warning signs, including:
It’s too good to be true. Your mom was right: if it seems too good to be true, it generally is. Any job listing that promises high pay for easy work is almost certainly a scam. Examples include envelope stuffing, data entry, etc., for thousands per week.
You have to pay to get started. While some niche job search sites may require a fee, legitimate employers never charge money to apply for a job. This includes any job that requires you to purchase a kit or leads before you start earning.
The “employer” asks for personal information right up front. Companies don’t need your social security number, banking informatin, etc., before they even offer you a job. If you’re asked for any of this personal information early in the process, you’re likely dealing with a job scam, not a real opportunity.