Avoiding Unemployment Scams

April 08 2014

Julia Richardson By Julia Richardson –

Unemployment can be a scary place. If you’ve been out of work for more than a few weeks or months, you may begin to feel hopeless. Suddenly, you find yourself looking for something, anything to do. You’re desperate. The job opportunities the former you may have shunned or dismissed as a scam begin to look appealing.


Knowledge is power. You may think that you couldn’t possibly, ever, under any circumstances fall for an employment scam, but the reality is that these scams have been around for a long time and continue to thrive for a reason.

Let’s take a look at five common job scams.

Nigerian Check Cashing
The Nigerian check cashing scam is well known, and yet not all are presented in the form of poorly worded unsolicited emails. Many times, these jobs are posted on legitimate employment websites. When you contact the company, things will likely proceed normally. There may be no immediate red flags at all. Before you know it you’ve sent in sensitive personal information or agreed to cash a check and transfer money.

As much as the very idea of transferring funds to a stranger seems insane, this scams longevity speaks for itself.

Envelope Stuffing
This is the job that is advertised in every college newspaper and magazine classifieds. You’ve probably noticed it several times and wondered what the catch was. Sure, it would be boring sitting around stuffing envelopes all day, but at least you’d be collecting a paycheck.

Unfortunately, there is a catch. You’ll need to purchase a kit and stamps at your own expense. Once you send off your letters, you’ll need to hope that someone is foolish enough to fall for an unsolicited letter to do the same. Otherwise, you’re out time and money.

This common employment scam is similar to the Nigerian check-cashing scheme. You receive an offer, either unsolicited or through a seemingly innocent job posting. Once trust is established, your new employer will direct shipments to your house for you to simply forward to another.

While it sounds simple enough, this scam could land you in legal trouble. Often, the shipment you receive is actually stolen property and once you receive and send it, you’ve received and shipped stolen property. More information from the USPS can be found here.

Medical Billing
There is no shortage of commercials that proclaim medical billing to be the answer to your unemployment woes. Like the envelope scam, an initial investment is required in order for you to start. While there are legitimate medical billing jobs, the ones that require an investment are not among them.

Medical billing is a big industry and one that is built around several large firms that are known in the industry. With your kit, you are a one man (or woman) show, and one with stiff competition. Very few people are likely to purchase your medical billing services and you’ll be hard pressed to get a return on your investment.

Work at Home Listings
This scam promises a directory listing of companies hiring for work at home positions- for a small price. Once you pay up, you’re given a worthless and often outdated list. It’s simple and to the point, likely adding to its success.

You may think that you’d never fall for an employment scam, but so do most others that fall for them. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While some employment scams only rob you of time and money, some could result in a visit from law enforcement. So take note- the only think worse than being unemployed is being in jail.

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