By Tyler Russell
Employment scams were the riskiest con of 2018, according to the latest report from the Better Business Bureau.
These scams topped the list for men and women, three of BBB’s six age brackets, and for both
students and veterans, according to data from the BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report.
The risk report has been published annually since 2016 and has provided Better Business Bureaus around the country with statistics and information to help elevate the education of consumer and businesses. In 2018, there were 50,559 scams reported with an average dollar loss of $152, which was a 33.3 percent decrease from 2017.
The BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report uses the BBB Risk Index, a three-pronged measure of scam risk based on exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss. How likely are you to be targeted by a particular scam? What are your odds of losing money when exposed? If you lose money, how big will your losses be?
Taking the second spot in top scams of 2018 was online purchase scams. This situation can happen in several different ways. A buyer makes an online purchase from an individual or company. However, the items never arrive or in some cases a person sells an item online, but the check received for payment is fake.
The No. 3 riskiest scam is the fake check or money order scam, where a consumer receives a check that is “an accident overpayment” and they are requested to wire the money back. The check bounces and the consumer is on the hook for the money which is usually discovered much later.
Age seems to have a factor in the susceptibility and dollars lost. For the younger consumers, ages 18 to 24, they have a susceptibility of 42.4 percent and a median dollar lost of $92. For consumers aged 65 and older, they have a susceptibility of 20.8 percent and an average dollar lost of $400.
As we look at gender, men have a susceptibility of 29.1 percent and a median loss of $222, and women have a susceptibility of 30.5 percent with a median loss of $120. The gender differences in susceptibility are small, but the dollar losses for men were much higher.
Let’s look at how many of the employment scams work.
In 2018, job scams often impersonated Amazon. The reason? The online retailer was frequently in the news with its high-profile search for a second headquarters. In 2017, only 24 BBB Scam Tracker reports were employment scams that mentioned Amazon. In 2018, that jumped to 564.
Amazon scams and other employment cons typically follow the same pattern.
Scammers contact victims by finding résumés posted online, posting phony job listings, or cold emailing targets. In most versions, the target starts corresponding with the “business” about a job opening. The pay is good, the job seeker can start immediately and no in-person interview is required.
The catch, of course, is that job doesn’t really exist. The scammer may ask for an upfront payment for training or a background check. In other scenarios, the con artist asks the job seeker to deposit a (fake) check and wire back part of the money.
They may even get your bank account number to “direct deposit” your paycheck.
Be cautious of any job that asks you to share personal information or pay money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit, or paying for training.
If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. Google the title and company name. If the result comes up in many other cities with the exact same post, it may be a scam.
Check out the business’ website. Scammers often falsely use the names of real businesses. Check on the business’s website or give them a call to confirm the position exists.
If you’ve been targeted by a scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience online at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
>> Tyler Russell is the marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific.
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