Looking for a Job? Be Careful! BBB Study Finds Job Scams Increased During Pandemic

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Employment scams are on the rise according to a new study from the Better Business Bureau. BBB warns job seekers to verify employment offers to avoid illegal jobs, identity theft, and fake checks. The in-depth investigative study, Job Scams, details the many forms of employment fraud that millions are exposed to annually. The full study is available here.

BBB estimates that some 14 million people are victims of job scams each year, with more than $2 billion in direct losses. Job scams were the riskiest of all scams tracked by BBB in 2018 and 2019, and the situation got worse in 2020 as the pandemic shuttered businesses and impacted all aspects of society, according to the 2020 BBB Employment Scams Report. Government agencies that track scams and fraud found similar increases. Losses reported to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) about employment scams were up 27% between 2018 and 2020, while complaints to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) nearly doubled in 2020.

BBB research found that job scams commonly victimized people ages 25-34, with women filing 67% of the complaints. The median financial loss reported by these victims was $1,000; in addition, they often reported loss of their time, as 32% were never paid for the work they did for an "employer" that turned out to be fraudulent. Identity theft is a common outcome of job scams, as scammers will often steal job seekers' personal information to open bank accounts to further their fraud. BBB found 34% of victims provided their driver's license information and 25% provided their Social Security or Social Insurance number.

Fake checks frequently accompany job scams, and the use of them continue to grow. The BBB Employment Scams study finds that 36% of job scam complaints to BBB involved a fake check, with the number of fake check complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) increasing by 65% between 2015 and 2020. In the two years since BBB issued an investigative study on fake check fraud, the losses absorbed by banks themselves related to fake checks went up 40% costing them $1.3 billion. Common fraudulent job offers involving fake checks include mystery shopping or secret shopper jobs, car wrap jobs, nanny or caregiver jobs, and small business jobs such as photography or painting houses.

Victims of job scams are encouraged to report them to: