Beware of Scams During the COVID-19 Crisis

As if the current health and economic crisis weren’t enough to contend with, the incidence of scams is on the rise.  With millions filing unemployment claims due to furlough, layoffs, and  organization-wide workforce reductions, scams abound. It’s an unfortunate fact that in times of crisis and distress, scammers emerge from the shadows on the hunt for easy marks.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating the perfect conditions for scammers to rip off people who are laid-off and desperate for work. The FTC also  published a public warning of scammers looking to take advantage of the current climate of fear and uncertainty. Stay aware and alert against the following scams:

Unidentified job and loan offers by text and email – Lately, I’ve been receiving several scammy texts for loans and job offers with absolutely no identifying information other than some obscure link to click for more information. Experts warn against clicking random links; and some recommend copying and pasting the link into Google’s search engine for further research.

Work at home jobs – The Chicago Tribune has reported “between 60 to 70 job scams” for every legitimate work-from-home job. It’s important to research companies extensively before sharing your personal information in the application process. Also, watch out for these red flags:

  • Job offers that require a fee. Once you pay the fee, there is no job.
  • Fake job listings. Some scammers will publish ads that pretend to be connected with well-known organizations. Minimize your chances of becoming the victim of a scam by contacting your state’s Career OneStop or searching job boards that vet hiring companies.

Online resume writing scams – I wrote a post about online resume writing scams and how to avoid them. Unfortunately, the resume writing profession is an unregulated mix of professionally-trained, certified experts and low quality resume mills. The best way to ensure you’re doing business with a qualified resume writer, make sure they’ve earned certification from at least one of the following organizations (you can search the organization’s database for writer names):

Executive job placement scams – According to the FTC, these organizations are also commonly referred to as headhunters. In reality, they may be scammers offering to connect you with executive positions with high-profile companies. They may use fake websites, fake emails, and even fake LinkedIn profiles to reach out to executives for a fee. Protect yourself from these scammers by researching the company name in Google or another search engine with the word “scam” or “complaints” to see if any negative information comes up. The FTC also recommends getting search firm and recruiter referrals from your trusted network and/or industry connections.

Always remember: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” Be safe out there!

Photo Credit: Sergey Zolkin, Unsplash