Business

Beware of bogus summer jobs

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As summer approaches and hoards of high school and post-secondary students flood the job market, The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning job seekers to be on the alert for common employment scams.

The Consumer Sentinel Network reported more than one million fraud complaints in 2013, with more than 65,000 of those being employment-related fraud complaints.

President and CEO of BBB Serving Mainland BC, Danielle Primrose, says it can be easy to believe phony job offers.

"It can be tempting to go for opportunities promising easy money," she says. "But we encourage job hunters to do their homework and fully understand an opportunity before accepting it."

Here are the top employment scams to watch for this job-hunting season:

• Mystery Shopper: The job might be to test the services of a cheque-cashing or a money transfer company. The offer usually contains a fraudulent cheque along with instructions for you to cash the cheque and transfer a portion of the sum over a money transfer service to the name provided and keep the rest. When the cheque is discovered to be fraudulent, victims are held accountable for the entire amount.

• Envelope Stuffer: This may sound like an easy job, but you could be asked to spend your own money on advertising material, postage, even the envelopes themselves.

• Product Assembler: Training videos for these projects are either incomplete or make the job seem easier than it really is. Some craft assembly companies require an up-front training fee, which could be a red flag.

• Book Reader: The ads indicate that all you have to do is ask for a list from which you pick a book, submit a report and then get paid right away, only to discover that publishers don't hire people for this purpose without proper experience.

• Movie Reviewer: A version of the over-payment scam. You may be given a fraudulent cheque over paying you to watch movies only to be asked to wire the excess funds back.

• Data Enterer: Promising high wages for simple data entry is a red flag. Legitimate job postings will hire for administrative professionals, secretaries or typists. Be wary of get rich quick offers.

• Timesheet Filler, Medical Biller or Coupon Clipper: You may be required to purchase special software to perform these tasks from home, only to find out the software program is loaded with glitches. This means extra time and money spent on trying to fix the technical issues. Or, worse, there is no paycheque coming and you've forked out money for useless software.

• Internet Surfer: Paid-to-surf sites offer a paid commission for a specified amount of time. The more time spent viewing pages, the more you get paid. Problem is, either the goal is impossible or it's a pyramid scheme requiring you to recruit more surfers to achieve your goal.

The BBB offers the following tips for students when looking for summer job opportunities:

• If it's too-good-to-be-true, it likely is. If you are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it could be a scam. If an employer offers you a lot of money for simple work or to work at home, it is most likely too-good-to-be-true.

• Get it in writing. If the employer does not provide you with the details of the job in writing, be wary. A written offer or contract should clearly outline the responsibilities, qualifications as well as the specific terms and conditions.

• Verify the business. If the employer does not provide you with the business' location and contact information and you cannot find it on their website, consider it a red flag.

• Do not hand over money or personal information before you're hired. If the employer requires fees for training, background checks or drug tests, it could be a scam. Remember you will not be asked to pay for a job.

• Check with BBB. Check the potential employer's BBB Business Review to view the employer's rating, complaint history and other important information.

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