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Working Wise: Internet Job Scams

Dear Working Wise,

I saw an Internet ad saying that I could make $1,000 a day on the Internet working from home. That sounds too good to be true. Is it?
Signed, Wary

March 8, 2017

Dear Wary,

A company that pays its staff $1,000 a day to work from home shouldn’t need to advertise. The Internet is filled with work-from-home scams masquerading as real jobs.

Top 10 Red Flags to Watch for

  1. Job title, job duties and compensation are vague.
  2. Job offer is a spam email or a web-banner advertisement.
  3. Unprofessional ad, website, email address, correspondence.
  4. Employer is hard to identify, locate or contact by telephone/email.
  5. Employer shows little interest in your qualifications; no job interview.
  6. Employer pressures you to buy training/equipment/software for the job.
  7. You are asked to repackage items sent to you and then ship them abroad.
  8. You are asked to transfer or wire money out of your personal bank account.
  9. Employer quickly asks for your Social Insurance Number or banking information.
  10. Too good to be true: guaranteed big money, no risk, no experience, no effort needed.

You can also check suspicious job opportunities using the Central and Northern Alberta Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. The tracker lists over 31,000 scams reported across Canada and the U.S. in the past year, including 281 scams in Alberta—46 of which were employment scams.

Scam Detector is a website and free mobile app that describes many of the most common consumer scams, including 78 different employment scams. In one of the more popular scam types, the “employer” sends you a large cheque to pay you and cover some sort of expense. They then ask you to send/wire money to them or another company for any number of reasons. The cheque they sent you isn’t real, but the money you send them is. The car-wrapping scam is the latest version of this scam.

Other scams ask you to pay an upfront fee for training or other expenses. Once you’ve paid your fee, you will never hear from the “employer” again. Phishing scam “employers” quickly hire you and then ask you for your social insurance number and banking information so they can pay you. Instead, they use the information to steal your identity or your money.

If you want a real job where you can work from home, you might want to try applying to legitimate employers for traditional jobs that you can do from home and then discuss the idea of telecommuting. Technological advances and potential cost savings are making more companies open to the idea of employees working from home.

For home-based business ideas, search for “telecommuting” on Alis.

For more tips on preventing fraud, check out the Central and Northern Alberta Better Business Bureau’s Scam Stopper web page.

March is Fraud Prevention Month. For tips and information on Fraud Prevention Month, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/mikkelwilliam

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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