Scammers seeking students seeking work
Summer job seekers beware, consider these suggestions
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
Goodbye, spring break…hello, summer! For college and high school students statewide, the summer job hunt starts now, and the Wisconsin Departments of Workforce Development (DWD) and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) ask students to be on the lookout for questionable job postings, particularly those featuring too-good-to-be-true employment offers or those asking for upfront payment for training or materials.
“Businesses throughout Wisconsin are on the hunt for good candidates, but mixed within legitimate employment listings are job postings made by scam artists,” said Michelle Reinen, DATCP’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Students should be on the lookout for ‘get rich quick’ ploys, fake check scams, phony mystery shopper offers, and work-at-home schemes.”
DWD operates JobCenterofWisconsin.com, the state’s free online public labor exchange that connects talent with opportunity and currently has over 95,000 job postings. While DWD strives to validate the identity of all employer representatives who post jobs directly on the site, users are also advised to use caution if they opt to search external sites from JobCenterofWisconsin.com.
“At the Job Center of Wisconsin, our top priority is maintaining trust in the security of our system,” DWD Division of Employment & Training Division Administrator Chytania Brown said. “We do everything we can to ensure our registered job seekers and employers are protected from any intentional misuse. Even so, visitors to our site must also take responsibility for and carefully examine their own online interactions and activities.”
JobCenterofWisconsin.com includes a list of cautions, including many that are applicable to any online employment site. DWD and DATCP offer the following tips to help students protect themselves when they seek seasonal jobs:
- It is not common or normal practice for an employer to ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number and bank account number (or similar personal financial information) on an initial application. Be wary and use good judgment if unusual information is requested.
- Be suspicious of any job offer that requires an upfront fee. Do not provide credit card or bank account numbers and be careful of requests for payment by wire transfer.
- Any “job” that requires you to cash a check and send any amount of it to another party is a scam.
- Be cautious when dealing with any contacts outside of the United States. It is difficult to pursue any enforcement action against a person located outside of this country.
- Research an organization before making any commitments. Ask for information about the company, including its street address and the name of its owner or chief operating officer. You may wish to call DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to check on complaints against the business.
- Get the job offer in writing, including any earnings you are expected to make.
- If the interview request or job offer is for a job you did not apply for, it is most likely a scam.
- Scammers often send “spoofed” emails with forged email headers that make the messages appear to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. If the web address (URL) referenced in the sender’s email address does not match the true URL for the business in question, the email may be a scam. The official email address for the Job Center of Wisconsin isJobCenterofWisconsin@dwd.gov.
A common employment scam to watch out for begins with an email request for a “Google Hangout” interview for a work-at-home position. The scammer uses a legitimate company name and claims to have found the job seeker’s resume on an online employment site. After a job offer is made during the “interview,” the job seeker is sent a check or money order for “office supplies and equipment,” is instructed to deposit it into their personal account, and is told to buy expensive equipment from a particular vendor. Unfortunately, the check or money order are fake and the job seeker will be on the hook for the full amount of money withdrawn when the bank discovers the fraud.
For additional information on job opportunities in Wisconsin, visit the Job Center of Wisconsin website. A number of DATCP fact sheets relating to job scams can be found on the agency’s consumer fact sheets webpage under the “Employment” heading.