How to Avoid Personal Assistant Job Scams

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Personal assistant jobs rank highly on the list of sought-after employment. Most of these jobs offer a great deal of flexibility, the potential to work completely from home, interesting clients, and they often pay quite well.

Because so many individuals would love a career as a personal assistant, unscrupulous people have launched scams preying on job seekers who think they've found a genuine personal virtual assistant career opportunity.

Personal Assistant Scams

Typical personal assistant scams offer generous payment for helping "clients" transfer money to businessmen at other companies. In reality, these scams consist of veiled attempts at money-laundering. When they succeed, the unwitting “personal assistant” ends up taking the fall during federal investigations.

The scammers who post these “personal assistant” ads frequently list a number of work responsibilities that seem to be legitimate, including duties like purchasing gifts, running personal errands, and setting appointments. However, you can identify these scams because they also always include an emphasis on sending and/or receiving money or packages.

What to Look Out For

For instance, an ad might say that your new employer will send you a check or money order, asking you to forward some of the money while keeping a percentage for yourself. What really takes place is that this money, “cleaned” through your bank account, gets forwarded right back to the scammer as funds that you have unwittingly made untraceable. The check will prove to be fraudulent, leaving you to pay the funds back to your bank.

Other scams ask for a personal assistant who can receive and ship various packages. While the scammer will claim that these packages come from his company, they will, in fact, contain illegal goods. The scammer might even send you a fraudulent check to pay for shipping costs. Not only will you have to pay your bank for the fraudulent check, but you could also be charged with mailing illegal goods.

How to Sidestep the Scams

To avoid these scams, thoroughly research an employer before applying for a job. You'll find some listings for personal assistants seem extremely vague, simply stating that the employee works from home. You have every right to ask for information regarding the company with which your potential employer does business.

If a job advertisement does not contain the specific name of the employer, this should raise a red flag for you to investigate the position further before signing the dotted line.

In some cases, ads may create a fictional persona for the supposed employer. For example, the employer may provide a false name and say that he works as a lawyer, doing business from home.

He may also offer fake credentials to try to help himself sound legitimate. In cases like these, make sure that the employer has actually worked on cases or belonged to a real firm. A simple Google search can help you find out if the person's career is legitimate or if the potential employer strangely seem to not even exist. 

Additionally, most scam jobs will accept anyone, right away. If, after submitting your application, you get an immediate answer or have an interview with just a question or two before being offered the job, proceed with caution.

Scammers are looking for any quick and gullible target and want to get you hired right away, so will have a minimal screening process. By asking questions, you identify yourself as informed, and they will move on to other targets. 

What to Look For in a Real Personal Assistant Job

Real personal assistant jobs have rigorous application processes. Because you will be working closely for someone, often having access to their personal information and financial and other sensitive data, a true personal assistant job can take weeks if not months to fill.

Beyond submitting a resume and cover letter, you'll likely need to submit several professional or personal references, agree to a background check and drug test, and go through several interviews, either over the phone, via webcam, or in person.

The entire hiring process for a legitimate personal assistant job takes some time to find the right person. Do not be discouraged; it's just a sign that the employer's doing her due diligence and that the position is legitimate.