List of Top Internet Scams

Avoid These Common Online Scams

Women checking bank statement
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Online scammers collect your personal information to use for identity theft, persuade you to cash fraudulent checks or to wire or send money, and trick you into paying for services or supplies you don't need or want.

Many of these scams come up when you are job searching. Someone might promise you a job if you first cash a check or provide personal information. It is essential to know what kinds of internet scams are out there so that you can successfully avoid them.

Tips for Avoiding an Internet Scam

Here are some strategies for identifying internet scams, with a focus on avoiding scams related to your job search.

Read Emails Carefully. Whenever you get an email from a company, read it carefully.

Signs of possible scams include emails with no contact information, emails with different fonts, and emails with spelling and grammar errors.

Read through the entire email to make sure there isn’t anything in the fine print about needing to share your bank account information, or depositing checks for the company.

Do Not Pay. Be skeptical of anything related to the job search that requires you to spend money. Legitimate employers don't charge to interview or to hire you. Don't send money for work-at-home directories, advice on getting hired, or company information.

Don’t Wire Anyone Money. A common scam is that someone offers you a job, then sends you a check and asks you to deposit it. They then ask you to wire some of that money to someone else. This often happens in particular with mystery shopper scams. Typically, the check sent to you is fake, and then you have to pay the bank back. Never send anyone else money as part of a job offer.

Research the Job and the Company. When you get an email or message about a job at a company, visit the company's website. If they don't have one or it doesn't fit with how the email describes the company, consider that a red flag. How professional is the company if they don’t have a website? Is there contact information? Are jobs and career information posted on the site? Be cautious when receiving information about a job or company.

Check the Company's References. Along with researching the company, you can check out a company’s references if you're not sure if the company is legitimate. You are as entitled to check a company's references as they are to check you out. Request a list of other employees or contractors. Then, contact the references to ask what they know about the company. If the company isn't willing to provide references (names, email addresses, and phone numbers), do not consider the opportunity.

Check Scam Lists- Check with organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission to see if the message you received is part of a common scam.

Forget Getting Rich Quick - Avoid listings that guarantee you quick wealth or financial success. If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it is. In particular, stay clear of listings that offer you high income for part-time hours. They will do none of the above.

Types of Internet Scams

Here are some of the most-common online and technology-assisted scams that can job you of your money or of your identity. Forewarned is forearmed.

Job Search-Related Scams: Most job search-related internet scams offer “lucrative” work-at-home opportunities – but then typically ask the applicant to either send money or participate in disguised, illegal money laundering activities.

Credit / Identity Theft Scams: Credit and phishing scams seek to trick you into providing identifying information like your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers, personal address, and / or phone number. They are a prime vehicle for identity theft.

Banking / Money Transfer Scams: These scams prey upon the financials of gullible victims by discovering their PIN numbers or tricking them into participating in illegal wire transfers.

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

As much as you try to avoid it, you might find yourself the victim of a scam. If this happens, report the scam with the Federal Trade Commission.

You might also report it with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which takes reports on all kinds of scams. This will help other people to avoid becoming victims of the same scam. Here’s more information on reporting a job scam.

BE VIGILANT: Never take an online job advertisement, especially for “work-at-home” opportunities, at face value. If a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

DO YOUR RESEARCH: Thoroughly investigate companies that hire online by visiting their website, asking for and checking references, and seeing whether they have an authentic corporate presence on sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor.

MAINTAIN YOUR PRIVACY: Never provide private information like your social security number, credit / debit PINs, or bank account information to online “employers” who solicit this information until you have confirmed that they are legit.