RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With unemployment continuing to remain high because of COVID-19, employment scams have become epidemic as criminals try to use the work-at-home mandate to hide their schemes.
It used to be said that working from home offers were a big red flag, but when the pandemic forced people out of the office, working from home was no longer a red flag—but the norm.
Scammers are using work at home offers to steal your money and personal information.
“Be aware of any sort of position that says you don’t need any special training or licensing,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.
Among the more common scam jobs that have surfaced recently:
- Envelope Stuffing
- Online Reshipping or Package Forwarding
- Home Assembly Jobs
Stuffing envelopes is actually done with automation, faster than any human could do it, so anyone asking you to do that is scamming you.
Package forwarding schemes are run by criminals who can’t ship the goods they’ve procured with stolen credit cards, so they use a third party like you to route the stolen goods to another address. Once the package is there, they can then sell the stolen goods.
Michelle Dufort was offered a job forwarding packages, and told Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia that she realized they were also after her personal information.
“There was something telling me something wasn’t right, and I didn’t want to give these people my social security number,” she said.
Home assembly jobs require you to pay for a kit or materials in order to put together items. That is not the way real companies work, because piece-meal assembly of items just isn’t cost effective.
Parker says if a job requires you to pay something to get the equipment to do the job at home, it’s a scam.
“Legitimate jobs will typically never ask you to pay some money ahead of time to purchase equipment or pay to get training or licensed,” she said.
Another scam job out there asks you to be a mystery shopper and purchase gift cards to “test” how store employees treat customers. That’s not a legit job.
If you want to be a real mystery shopper, you need to check with the Mystery Shopper’s Professional Association which lists real opportunities on its website as well as scams.
Before you start giving up information to a work at home job scammer, you need to do a few minutes of research.
If you’re not interviewing with a company in-person, Parker said you need to know what the address looks like. Check Google’s ‘street view’ to see what’s really at that location.
“Does this brick and mortar really exist? If it’s in a different state, look up the address, and check with the BBB,” Parker said.
You should also do an internet search for comments about the company because oftentimes people will post information about how a scam firm entrapped them.
Right now, many firms have hiring freezes in place—so check any company offering you a work at home job. See if the company is really hiring or if someone is just using the firm’s name to cheat you.
Remember, a lot of scammers also impersonate real companies.