Virtual Job Scams
In light of COVID-19 and recent employment trends, more and more people are working online. With so many people looking to work remotely, scammers often advertise these opportunities to students. Distinguishing between legitimate virtual jobs and fraudulent ones can be hard, but here are some tips to keep in mind.
You can often tell if a job is safe by simply looking at the job description. Consider whether each job makes sense as a virtual role. Employers will often hire virtual employees for customer service or sales positions (jobs that require talking on the phone) as well as jobs that rely heavily on computer usage. But scammers will create virtual jobs that simply don’t make sense.
Always ask yourself why an employer would pay someone to do a job before applying. Below are examples of improbable virtual jobs:
- Envelope stuffing and at-home assembly: It is not cost effective for an employer to pay you to do these jobs. They can get people to do these jobs for a very low rate, so it doesn’t make sense for them to pay you.
- Medical billing tracking: These types of jobs are normally reserved for people with major security access and cannot be offered as basic internships. Be cautious of companies that specialize in medical-based billing and accounting.
- Software downloads: If you have to download and buy software to do a job, walk away. You should never have to purchase anything to become an intern.
- Receiving and forward packages: In this scam, you're asked to receive packages at your home from established internet companies, and then forward them on to another address. These so-called "jobs" are designed to help scammers steal online merchandise, and when you take on these tasks for money (which is often “tax free,” paid in cash or through Western Union), it puts you right in the middle.
Questions to ask
If you’re uncertain about the legitimacy of a job, you can learn more in your interview. These questions will help you determine if you’re dealing with a scam:
- What will my day-to-day look like? What are the individual tasks I will be doing?
- How will I be paid? Are taxes taken out?
- Where will my payment come from?
- Where is the company physically located? Can I find (and talk to) my boss through established online and offline channels?