Work-from-home jobs have always been a target of scammers. Now, amid the COVID-19 crisis, these jobs have become even larger targets.
Complaints about scams for certain business and job-related opportunities have spiked this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau (BBB). This uptick comes as the United States grapples with the worst recession since the Great Depression with unemployment numbers hitting a record-setting high of 14.7%.
The BBB’s scam tracker shows work-at-home scams have become its No. 1 complaint, often involving reshipping packages. According to this BBB report, 65% of consumers reported that their “job offer” was related to becoming a “warehouse redistribution coordinator” or some similar titles involving the reshipment of packages, which often involve stolen goods. In many cases, these scammers impersonated well-known retailers such as Amazon and Walmart to seem legitimate, posting jobs on major online employment platforms with few prerequisites or requirements.
As more people search for flexible employment opportunities following the coronavirus outbreak, they need to know that scammers are out there in force and targeting those most in need.
Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.
- Do your research before you apply: While online job boards have protocols in place to spot fraud, people can and should still do their due diligence before sending any personal financial information.
- Report it: If you see a scam or are a victim, you should report it to the website where the fake listing was posted, the FTC and the BBB. You can also alert local law enforcement and your state attorney general.
- Protect your identity and finances: If you sent money of personal information to a scammer, you should alert the financial institution that you made the payment through or sent personal information about. This can help to trace and potentially recoup funds. Also, consider signing up for identity theft protection to monitor your identity.
If you’ve given out other personal information by accident, you may want to place a freeze on your credit reports to prevent other accounts being opened in your name. You should also check bank and credit card statements for any fraudulent purchases and report them right away.
Monitoring your credit and identity for suspicious activity also is important. Monitoring services can scan the internet and dark web, so you can act quickly if you become a victim.