How to Avoid Fraudulent Job Scams

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By CHERY SABOL for the Missoula Job Service

Those without conscience will exploit those without jobs if given the chance. Fraudulent job scams on the Internet swindle money or personal information out of people made vulnerable by their unemployment. Here are some things to be wary of:

An employer contacts you and claims to have found your perfectly articulated and desired qualifications on an Internet job-board site. This job pays $35 per hour, working from home, with minimal skills. To begin, you must send money for the specialized software you will need for the job. Or you must send money for a background or credit check. Or you must provide your bank account number, security answers, and other private banking information for the payroll department. Or you must deposit a check from the company in your account, hold out your salary, and wire the balance on to another person… If the UN colored all its flags red, its building would look exactly the way any one of these scenarios should look to you.

employment scams

If you have to write a check to get a job, or if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh of Missoula Police Department and Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office offer the same scam-prevention truism known the world over: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” they both said.

Welsh said the middle-man scheme is often posted online for employment and money-making opportunities. People still fall for the con, which promises a payout or just payroll in the job-scam variation on this common scheme. The scammer mails a check to the victim, who deposits it in his or her bank account. The check amount is in excess of whatever the victim expects. The scammer requires the victim to wire the balance back or on to someone else. A few days later, the victim learns the check was fake and the “balance” that was passed on becomes a debit to his or her account.

Welsh said one of the things that makes this con easy is that money wired to what seems to be a legitimate business in New York or Los Angeles or Missoula can be intercepted by bad guys anywhere in the country because they have all of the account information on the wire transfer.

Another tactic requires job-seekers to provide bank account information and Internet passwords and security codes, along with Social Security numbers and other private information. In that case, it’s the victim’s identity that a scammer wants to steal, not just money.

“We encourage people not to provide any information on the phone or Internet,” if they’re not convinced the person requesting it is legitimate, Pavalone said.

How can you tell legitimacy? Welsh said he is happy to review any job announcement that looks shady. Most people can tell the difference if they put aside the emotions that come with being offered a “job” after a long search. Be suspicious of correspondence from someone claiming to be an employer if it has extremely poor spelling and grammar. Look upon e-mails coming from a personal e-mail account instead of a business name as worth investigating. And do investigate. It’s worthwhile to check out any company that advertises a job that interests you. There’s nothing wrong with calling a company’s human resources department to see if an opening is legitimate. And if something feels wrong, contact Welsh or his colleagues. You might be able to stop someone else from being conned. That’s not bad work at all.


Looking for a job in Missoula? Be sure to check out our Missoula Job Listings.  Be sure you “LIKE” the Missoula Job Service Facebook Page for daily post on job opening. You’ll also find Missoula-area information on Job Hunting ResourcesJob Hunting Tips, Job Interview Tips, tips for writing Cover Letters and Resumes.


Chery Sabol is an employment consultant at the Missoula Job Service, an organization that offers programs and services to assist employers and job seekers alike. Those looking for employment can view job openings on our job board, website, and social media outlets. Employment consultants provide résumé reviews, conduct practice interviews, and offer skills testing.

The Job Service also provides a self-service area where job seekers have access to phones, a fax machine, a copier, and computers. Our qualified staff also offers business consulting services, including employee recruitment and retention assistance. Additionally, we provide financial support for businesses looking to train both new and current employees.

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