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Job Seekers: Be Wary of Scammers with ‘Easy Money’ Offers

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 04:05 PM

Western Union Offers Tips to Help Consumers Avoid Becoming Victims of Job Scams

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The unemployment rate in the U.S. recently fell to 8.1 percent, its lowest level in more than three years, yet there are still 12.5 million unemployed Americans. And, while job seekers are scouring the ‘Net and classifieds on the hunt for jobs, scammers are doing the same thing, except they’re on the hunt for unsuspecting victims.

Consumer frauds targeting job seekers flourish, particularly online, during tough economic times. They generally start with a too-good-to-be-true offer—work from home and earn thousands of dollars a month, no experience needed—and end with consumers out of a ‘job’ and out of money.

“Earnest people looking to make an honest living are often preyed upon by sophisticated scammers luring them in with ‘easy money’ offers,” said Shelley Bernhardt , Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services. “But there are warning signs that can help people steer clear of employment scams, like claims of guaranteed employment and having to pay up-front fees.”

Knowledge is key to avoiding becoming a victim and, while there are lots of variations, job scams generally follow one of three patterns:

1. Scammers pose as a new ‘employer’ and send victims a check to cover up-front expenses, like supplies. Victims deposit the check, buy the necessary supplies and wire any remaining funds back to the scammer. Weeks later, they find out the checks are fake and they’re on the hook for the entire amount.

2. Scammers pose as ‘recruiters’ pitching offers of guaranteed employment or as ‘employers’ extending job offers on the condition that victims pay up-front for things like credit checks or application or recruitment fees. Victims pay, but job offers never materialize.

3. Scammers pose as ‘company’ representatives and seek sensitive personal and/or financial information from victims under the guise of doing credit or background checks. They target victims later on for identity theft.

Here are some more tips to keep in mind:

  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With job scams, fraudsters lure people in with ‘easy money’ offers like high wages for little or no experience and promises of guaranteed employment.
  • Be skeptical of any job offer where you have to pay money up front.
  • Never send money from a deposited check until it officially clears. Just because funds are available doesn’t mean a check has cleared—by law, banks must make deposited funds available within a few days but it can take weeks to uncover a fake check.
  • If you’re communicating with anyone by email, check for common red flags like poor grammar, misspellings, character/spacing mistakes, and excessive capitalization. Look for use of generic email addresses rather than specific business email addresses.
  • Be cautious when dealing with people who say they currently live overseas or are out of the country on business. Scammers tell victims this to explain why they can’t meet in person. Be cautious also if they prefer to communicate via email only.
  • Do your research. Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s Office, and the Better Business Bureau to see if the company you’re dealing with has any complaints filed.
  • Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know and trust, especially people you’ve never met in-person.

Western Union provides a trusted and reliable way for people to send money to family members and friends. However, it is important to remember that a money transfer can be paid out to the receiver within a short time—even minutes—and after the money is paid, consumers cannot obtain a refund from Western Union, even if the transfer was the result of fraud.

If you sent a Western Union Money Transfer® and believe you may be a victim of fraud, call the Western Union Fraud Hotline number at (800) 448-1492. Information on fraud scams is available on the Consumer Protection section of Western Union website at: http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud. Additional information on money transfer scams is available from the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov > Consumer Protection > Money Matters > Scam Watch > Money Wiring Scams.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of April 24, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and 425 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

WU-F, WU-G

Source: Western Union

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