5 signs a side gig is a scam


The promise of earning a little extra cash to top up our paychecks probably appeals to most of us, whether it’s to make ends meet, save for a special occasion, or start a college fund for the kids. While there are plenty of legitimate side jobs that can help you achieve your financial goals, not every job you discover through online job boards or other methods will be your ticket to a paycheck.

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This is because the job might be a scam. Fraudsters have a knack for tricking hard workers into succumbing to the promise of lucrative jobs, only to find themselves victimized financially or through identity theft.

So, job seekers: beware. Employment scams contain several identifiable traits that fraudsters have figured out how to make seem legitimate. Read on for five common job scams, as well as learn a few ways to spot a job that isn’t hot.

Invitation to a job by e-mail

If you are actively looking for a job, you may have posted your resume on job boards. And one day, you may be delighted to receive an email response. But proceed with caution. While the email may be legitimate, scammers have been known to deceive with promises of an interview or, better yet, a job right away. To get you on the payroll as soon as possible, your supposed new business will ask you for information such as your social security number or your direct deposit bank account number – a sign of a scam.

Interview via messaging app or chat

Flex Jobs reports that a scammer might contact you through a reputable site, such as LinkedIn, and want to discuss a job with you. A legitimate job opportunity through LinkedIn will have a proven next step, such as a phone, Zoom, or in-person interview. A scammer, however, might ask you to download an app to continue the conversation, according to the Better Business Bureau. At this point, the scammer will attempt to trick you into sending personal information, opening the door to identity theft.

Placement service

Temp or recruiting agencies could be great ways to find side gigs. But if you want to charge for a post, don’t take out your wallet. The employer pays the placement agency to provide a quality employee, not the other way around. If you are asked to pay a fee, it could very well be a scam.

Government and postal services jobs

An ad for a federal government or postal job looks promising, and you might be able to adapt it to your current job. But when you answer, you’re told that you have to pay a fee to learn more or acquire the study tools you’ll need to pass a job exam with flying colors. The federal government will never ask you to pay a fee to find out about open jobs. You can search the job listings yourself at federal government Where Postal service websites.

Forwarding Jobs

The job posting pops up on your screen and the description seems perfect: a remailer. All you have to do is accept delivery of a package to your doorstep, then put it in new packaging and send it to an address provided to you, often overseas.

Items you frequently receive are electronics or luxury goods paid for with stolen credit cards. And you have three problems. By doing this job, you could commit a crime by shipping stolen goods. You try to contact the company to find out where your paycheck or shipping refund is, and the number is disconnected. Also, you provided your personal details to get paid, and now your identity has been compromised.

How to avoid a job scam

If you’re contacted about a job you haven’t applied for — or one that sounds too good to be true — the Better Business Bureau advises you to take the following steps before pursuing with a potential employer.

  1. Verify through an Internet search that the company and the job are real. A search for the company name and “scam” can raise red flags. Also check the careers page on the company’s website to verify that the position is listed. Scammers often try to hide behind legitimate companies to succeed in their frauds.
  2. Do not give out your personal information until you are 100% sure that the employer and the job are real.
  3. If you are hired on the spot without an interview, think twice.
  4. If an employer wants to pay you before you’ve spent a minute at work — especially if you’re then asked to reimburse all or part of it — don’t get caught. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau.

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About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a degree in communications from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor for daily newspapers across the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates her experience as a sports writer, business writer, religious writer, digital writer – and more. Passionate about real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still debating whether to get into home selling – or just writing about home selling.

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