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The Riley Guide

The Riley Guide: Before You Search

Scams & Schemes
in Work and Employment Services

Example Scam Alerts

Job Listings

job title, keywords
city, state, zip
jobs by job search
FTC Cracks Down on Con Artists who Target Jobless Americans (Feb 17, 2010)
"The Federal Trade Commission today announced a new crackdown on con artists who are preying on unemployed Americans with job-placement and work-at-home scams, promoting empty promises that they can help people get jobs in the federal government, as movie extras, or as mystery shoppers; or make money working from their homes stuffing envelopes or assembling ornaments." Names are named in this press release.
Cell Phone Scam Targets Unemployment Insurance Recipients (October 2009)
Several states report that unemployment benefit recipients are receiving text or cell phone messages that say something like “The Department of Labor has limited or deactivated your benefit card starting with (first 4-6 digits of card). Call: (various phone numbers) to reactivate.” If you call the number, you are asked for their full card number and PIN. Once the scammer has that information, your account can be accessed and funds stolen. If you get this kind of message, do not respond. Delete the message, then call your local unemployment office using the phone number on the back of your card or by looking up the phone number in a phone book. I've linked the announcement for New York, but Ohio, Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, and many other states have also issued warnings.

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Research Resources

non-US Resources || Online Bulletin Boards

Tip: Check the phone number of the person / organization that has contacted you using a reverse phone directory (aka "Search by Phone Number")to see the registered user's name and location. You can also search the phone number in a search engine like Google or Bing.
"This web site was created by the National Consumers League (NCL), the nation's oldest nonprofit consumer organization, as a central source of information and advice about fake check scams." Check out the Fraud Test to see how you rate (low risk or high risk) and learn how to prevent being a victim.
"The aim of FraudWatchers.Org is firstly to provide support, guidance and assistance to victims of fraud. [...] Secondly, we aim to educate people about fraud on the Internet, in all its manifestations." This site is free, and you can poke around and read things without registering, but if you want to post a question, you will need to register (free) and wait for confirmation of your registration. No, the people behind this site are not identified, but they are experts and they are not all located in the US. There are portions of this site in non-English languages which may guide users from non-US countries (I did not review these areas closely).
The Better Business Bureau
Yes, working just as hard for you online as off. Take a look at their Consumer Scam Prevention Tips, but also search to see if they have any information on the organization with whom you are dealing. Feel free to file a complaint if you see them here.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
...created by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to "combat the growing problem of fraud occurring over the Internet by providing a vehicle for victims around the country to report incidents of fraud online." They have a standard list of current Internet schemes of which several relate to employment or job search situations.
Looks Too Good To Be
...background information and alerts about Internet scams and fraud, including identity theft, job scams, and counterfeit payments. Includes a FAQ, a fraud risk test, and links to places to file a complaint about online fraud. Funding for the site has been provided by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and they partner with many industry sites in this effort.
Unemployment Scams: Info from
A page collecting all of their information on employment scams to help you learn how to recognize them, avoid them, and where to report them if you find them or have become a victim.
World Privacy Forum
...a nonprofit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) public interest research group focused on conducting in-depth research, analysis, and consumer education in the area of privacy.
World Privacy Forum: Workplace
"The World Privacy Forum's Workplace Privacy Project is a long term project to study and document privacy practices in the areas of job applicant privacy, workplace privacy, background checks, and related areas."

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non-US Resources for Fraud
Your site for cross-border consumer complaints. This portal was established to allow consumers report complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies. It was started in 2001 by a group of 13 countries (including the US), and now includes consumer protection agencies in 28 countries. You can file complaints on the site, but please read their advice prior to doing so. They also have information on various ways to resolve a complaint (including contacting your credit card company). The website is available in 8 languages (including English). You can select your language at any point in the site.
Monitor das Fraudes
This site offers information on and news about international fraud and schemes. The author, Lorenzo Parodi, lives in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and has an extensive background in international banking and finance. In Portuguese.
"The UK's Fraud Prevention Service." This not-for-profit membership association represents the private and public sectors and is dedicated to the prevention of fraud, including staff fraud, and the identification of financial and related crime. They have information on preventing identity theft (for UK citizens, this includes protecting your National Insurance number as well as bank accounts, etc.) and offer information on how to proceed if your information is incorrect or if you need to report possible identity theft for yourself or someone else.
...created as a partnership between several organizations, this site gives you the information on how to tell if you might be a victim, how to protect yourself from becoming a victim, and what to do / where to turn for help if you are a victim.
The Little Black Book of Scams (Canadian Edition)
Le Petit Livre noir de la fraude (L'édition canadienne)
First published by the Competition Bureau Canada 2012, this is based on a similar publication from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. You can review the contents online or you can download the PDF for free. It is filled with brief information on several current schemes, many of which you will recognize, and questions to ask before you connect, contibute, accept, or buy. FREE!
...your one-stop source for consumer information for all of Canada. "Working with federal, provincial and territorial governments, and non-government sources, helps you find authoritative information on consumer issues. It is brought to you by the Office of Consumer Affairs of Industry Canada to help promote and protect the interests of Canadian consumers."
Little Black Book of Scams (Australian Edition)
Published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, "the little black book of scams highlights a variety of popular scams that regularly target Australian consumers and small business in areas such as fake lotteries, internet shopping, mobile phones, online banking, employment and investment opportunities. It also offers consumers tips on how to protect themselves from scams, what they can do to minimise damage if they do get scammed and how they can report a scam." Residents of Australia can order print copies at no cost or download the pocket guide or the full document for free (PDF format).
...a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to provide information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. Yay!

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Online Bulletin Boards

These sites and services offer information and may allow you to post complaints about organizations, but they do not necessarily offer you any assistance. You also need to be aware that some of the postings may not be due to fraudulent services or unethical behavior but might just be someone venting vitriole. Despite the efforts of the organization the poster will just not be satisfied (The BBB also talks about this with their efforts). What you want to look for are multiple complaints from several persons, not a solo complaint from one person vented across the Internet. Read the language too. Does this person list the services or products which were bad, and specify efforts made to rectify this? If an organization or others post rebuttals to the original complaint, then read those as well.

Report Online Scams
"The purpose of this site is to aid people, so that they can report scams and help others. The Internet is growing at such a rapid rate; scam sites, hoaxes, etc. are showing up each and everyday. We have already shut down many fraudulent websites, as well as exposing many online frauds." You can learn about the team behind this site under the "About Us" page.
A group of volunteers who can help guide you through a problem. "We are experienced in this field, but we are all volunteers, not law enforcement or government officials of any kind. We cannot know everything about the situation or the exact nature of your circumstances. If you want a definitive statement about your precise position, you should seek proper legal advice or go to your local police." They ask that you register (anonymously, please) and post a notice in the appropriate forum. They will offer advice and as much assistance as they can.
Operated by Audri and Jim Lanford, this site offers free information on scams. There's no place for you to report scams, and they don't point you to a lot of helpful guidance about what to do if you are caught in one of these, but it is good info to have. They are trying to sell you other services, but their news and info on scams is quite helpful.
RipOff Report
...also know as, this is "a worldwide consumer reporting Website & Publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file & document complaints about Companies or Individuals who ripoff consumers." Individuals file reports about organizations with whom they have a complaint to warn others about potential problems. The organizations and supporters have an opportunity to file a free rebuttal to the complaint, and you should read these along with the initial complaint. You may learn that the complaint has no merit, but you may also learn that the organization just doesn't care. Job seekers will want to pay attention to the following categories -- Adult Career and Continuing Ed, Computer Training and Ed, Employers, Employment Services, and Home-Based Business, but I suggest using the Search Reports feature to find reports on specific companies or within specific categories, especially the "Advanced Search" which will comb the full text of all articles, not just the title. PLEASE NOTE: As you read these complaints, keep in mind that many were written by angry people who may be quite bitter about a situation. There may be more to the issue at hand, so think -- was this written by someone who is bitter, or does this appear to state facts that can be verified through another resource? Are you seeing multiple complaints against the same organization posted by different people or a campaign created by one person? It is quite frightening to see the same names listed over and over again, making a clear case for caution in dealing with any of several "employment services", but verify what you see here through other resources. RipOff Report offers arbitration services for a fee along with a Corporate Advocacy Program (again, for a fee), but even these do not get a bad report removed from the database. Use the site, but think about what you are reading and judge it accordingly.

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Some Specific Employment Scams You Might See

Because these various schemes are becoming more and more bold and innovative, I am dividing this section into various topics.

Job Offers | Work-at-Home Scams | "We Need Your Credit Report" | Payment-Forwarding / Reshipping | Executive Marketing / Employment Services | Filing Unemployment Claims

Job Offers

Money Job Scams: Money Laundering Job Scams, Alison Doyle (
If I had a nickel for every email I received from persons who got trapped (or came close to being trapped) by one of these I would be able to fund a lot of local charities. Thankfully many people get suspicious when asked to permit deposits to and transfers from their personal bank accounts. Alison reminds you of this again and clearly states that "no legitimate company will ask you to transfer funds before meeting you in person and conducting a thorough interview and background check." Links to even more information for you.
Is This Job Real?, Margaret Riley Dikel
I was contacted by a jobseeker who saw jobs she liked, but she wasn't sure they were legitimate. This article goes through my research process when facing a job listing that you suspect isn't real, and (in response to her state's job bank) what to do if you applied for a scam job!
Scam Report: International Job Offer, Margaret Riley Dikel
This is an actual email I received offering me a job with a company based in Dubai. My biggest concern: They requested a scan of my passport sent via email immediately. This is just like giving them your bank account. Read my notes as to how I recognized this as a scam and some comments from International recruiters on handling your passport information.
BBB Advice: Look for Seven Red Flags when Searching for Jobs Online (
"While the Internet has made searching for jobs easier, it also provides an opportunity for ID thieves and scammers to take advantage of eager - and unsuspecting - job seekers. Better Business Bureau is providing guidance that will help people spot the seven most common red flags associated with online job search scams." You probably know all of these, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
Online Job Board Horror Stories: How to avoid being scammed by less than honest employers, Dallas Woodburn (
"Even if you do not lose any money over a misleading job posting, you can lose a sense of privacy or security." Fairly decent article with information on a few different scams run by less-than-honest folks taking advantage of online job boards, along with 6 good tips on how to avoid getting scammed, even just out of your resume.

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Work-at-Home Scams

Work-At-Home Schemes from the Federal Trade Commission
...the latest information on their crackdown on fraudulent work-at-home and other business opportunities. They also have additional information on recognizing real Franchise & Business Opportunities . You'll also want to look at their information on Finding a Job.

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"We Need Your Credit Report"

This is really covered in the The Better Business Bureau article on Red Flags, above. "An employer asks for extensive personal information such as social security or bank account numbers. Regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, a job applicant should never give out his or her Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or via e-mail." Plus a potential employer does not need your bank account information. EVER!
Don't Fall For The Job Hunting Credit Report Scam, Chris Walters (
I was tipped off to this scam by an employment counselor in California who said one of his clients who was asked to submit a resume plus a credit report in response to a job announcement. Turns out it is the new way identity thieves get access to your information. This article from The Consumerist covers one angle, namely the supposed employer asks you to obtain a "free" credit report from a specific website (it is neither free nor legitimate). Similar requests have popped up on Craigslist. I will remind you again -- Never send a credit report to a potential employer as a part of your job application. Yes, an employer has a right to do a background check on you as a part of a job application, and that includes a credit check, but you do not need to provide it to them. Review our discussion with an HR professional on What to expect regarding background checks and interviews under Identity Theft, below.

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Payment-Forwarding / Reshipping

Critical Tips for Job Seekers to Avoid Payment-Forwarding Scams
I have seen the solicitations for this type of scam myself, and I have spoken to persons who were caught in its web. This article gives you only four very important things to look for if you suspect you are being targeted. Courtesy of the World Privacy Forum, working hard to protect all of us.
Two New Work-at-Home Re-Shipping Scams
"Two BBBs have recently issued warnings about work-at-home scams offering work that involves shipping packages overseas. The first scam is to be a “gift wrapper” for Best Buy; the second, to be a “mail manager” for an online company." Any job that requires you to ship items to another country is a scam! Don't fall for them! Great advice from the Better Business Bureau.
Report on Online Job Scams, Pt. 1: A Year in the Life of an Online Job Scam
The World Privacy Forum has released the first known study to document the movements of an online job scam over the course of a year, tracing the path of a single “payment forwarding” job scam as it traveled through dozens of online job sites from July 2003 to July 2004. Job seekers were scammed in 2 ways, first by being asked to provide bank and credit card information as a condition of employment, and second by being asked to wire or transfer funds overseas as part of their job. Many of the victims (the job seekers who wired the monies) were not only defrauded of their own funds, but they were arrested and charged for illegal transfers and wire fraud. World Privacy Forum Executive Director Pam Dixon, an early pioneer in using the Internet a job search tool, emphasizes that these four tips will go far to protect job seekers from this and similar scams:
  1. Never give personal bank account, PayPal, or credit card numbers to an employer. (Add Passport and Driver License scans to this list --mfd)
  2. Never agree to have funds or paychecks direct deposited to any of your accounts by a new employer.
  3. Never forward, transfer, or "wire" money to an employer.
  4. Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.
Fraud Alert: Bogus "Bonus" Checks (FDIC Consumer News, Summer 2002)
"We have warned readers about unsolicited offers of a job, a reward or some similar "opportunity" that are scams to convince people to send cash or give out valuable personal information. Now we want to tell you about a new wrinkle involving bogus checks that are costing victims big bucks." You are offered a job via phone (they found your resume online), and they are sending you a signing bonus, but the check is for well more than the $2000 you were promised. The instructions say "deposit the check and wire the excess to a third party. You follow the instructions and, weeks later, your bank discovers that the check is fraudulent. The result: The money you transferred from your account is gone and, depending on the circumstances, you may be liable for all of the money deposited, even if it's far beyond what you have in your account." This fraud also extends to cashier checks. You'll want to read this article for more information on how to spot fraudulent offers of this type.

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Executive Marketing / Employment Services

Recruitment Rip-Off, CBC Marketplace
"Tom Harrington exposes the aggressive practices of a job search marketing firm -- one that acts more like a recruitment agency. While this firm does have all sorts of clients, it seems to specifically target new Canadians, charging them for services and information widely -- and freely -- available." The full story includes interviews with the victims of these firms and a a second video includes tips from Nick Corcodilos ( on spotting these scams and avoiding them. Nick's biggest tip -- "You should never be paying someone to help you find a job". Remember that. This news story from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation includes additional tips for spotting and avoiding these scams as well as links to free resources and where to file complaints (Canada).
Ask the Headhunter: The Rip-Off Edition: Who's trying to sell you a job? (video)
Not only has Nick collected all of his articles on rip-offs and scams at the bottom of this page, he links to the above story by CBC Marketplace.
Random Convergence
This blog by Dan (yup, just Dan), is a discussion of his job search and what happened after he posted his resume online and was contacted by an executive career management firm that appears to operate under several different names. Yes, I know that his entries have not been updated since March 2008, but the information he shares about his experience is great. Also, the comments on the blog posts are incredible -- folks who have been contacted by the same folks and their experiences. Very instructive!
Career Column: Beware 'Executive Marketing' Firms (, January 17, 2003)
This article by Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet, gives some advice on contracting with these services, including research you should do before signing. This little bit is important for everyone to remember: "Keep in mind that no matter how much money you spend, the only person who is ever going to get you a job is YOU. Furthermore, you are dealing with an unregulated industry so the old adage of buyer beware is very much in order."
How much would you pay for a job? (Ask the Headhunter)
Nick Corcodilos blogs: "I never cease to be amazed at the scams sophisticated professionals fall prey to. But when you're looking for a job, any help is welcome. People want to believe that if help costs a lot of money, it must be good help. Think again. I'd like to share some e-mails between a reader and me." Scary.
Beware of Employment Scams
Information from the Better Business Bureau. "If you are looking for a job, you may come across ads for firms that promise employment results. Although many such firms are legitimate and helpful, others may misrepresent their services, promote outdated or fictitious job offerings, or charge high upfront fees for services that may not lead to a job."
Help Wanted ... Finding a Job, Federal Trade Commission via
Read this document from the FTC right after you read the previous one. This outlines the various kinds of employment services firms out there, how they differ, and how to select the right service for you. They also look at deceptive advertising practices and how to avoid problem firms.
The "Executive Marketing" Racket: How I Dropped Ten Grand Down a Hole by Mr. CFO (Ask the Headhunter)
This story was submitted to Ask the Headhunter by an unemployed CFO who prefers to be anonymous. The "counseling company" he refers to is real and well-known, but the name has been changed one that is totally fictitious. This intelligent, experienced executive job seeker was suckered by these guys, and he doesn't want the same to happen to you. After you've read this one, check out the Special: An Insider's Revelations about "Executive Career Counselors, Inc.": An Addendum to Mr. CFO's Story. This was authored by a former employee of one of these firms.
Bernard Haldane: Busting the Bad Boys (Ask the Headhunter)
Cites specific charges filed again this firm, one of the largest career management firms in the US. I would like to note that I spoke to Mr. Haldane some years ago, and he was quite upset with the way his namesake company was being run by those to whom it was sold.

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Filing Unemployment Claims

Unless you have applied for and been denied unemployment support, you have no need to pay anyone to help you file for this insurance program. Information about unemployment insurance benefits and completing an application for benefits are free services through all state websites in the US. To assist you, we have created a page with links to every state's unemployment insurance information, including DC, Puerto Rico, and The US Virgin Islands.

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How to Find a Good Career Management Firm

Several readers have written to me with thanks for the information provided here, but have wondered how to find the good services.

The first thing I will point out to you is that the terms "career marketing" and "executive marketing" make me nervous. This moniker indicates a firm that is engaged in selling.

Good career management consulting firms do not "sell" you. They help you to identify your strengths, overcome your weaknesses, explore your needs, wants, and values, and determine your path in your life and career, and then they help you to create and implement a plan to achieve your goals.

They do not market you. You market yourself. They just provide the tools and support.

You as an individual can find this kind of assistance in several places. Firms that offer what is called "retail outplacement," meaning they are paid by the job seeker, are one source. Another are firms offering career management, career consulting, or career coaching. Even career counselors can be helpful. We have some more information on this under Executive Job Search & Career Management Advice. However, you may still find firms that are problematic among this group, so here are a few tips to help you avoid problems.

If they GUARANTEE they will find you a job or you will find a job by using their services, thank them and leave.
Legitimate career management services know that (1) they cannot guarantee you will be successful in your search, and (2) it's not their job to find you a new job, it is your job. Their purpose is to educate you in the best ways to find a new position. to offer you the access to information and administrative services you need to assist you in your search, and to provide you with the support system necessary to keep you in the right frame of mind while you search (emotional support plus networking with the other clients.)
If they claim to have direct ACCESS TO THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET, thank them and leave.
Legitimate career management firms usually have good connections with local employers, but they do not have access to the "hidden job market" and will not tell you they do. They may be able to assist you with introductions and connections, but they will not claim to have more than that.
If they only have ONE PACKAGE AND ONE PRICE, thank them and leave.
Legitimate career management firms know that each individual has different needs, and they will not try to push you into buying a standard package of services. Most offer their services individually or in bundles, but they will help you determine what services you need and what services you can afford without pressuring you into spending big bucks.
If they must have your decision NOW, and need a check NOW, run!
What's the rush? You are already stressed and do not need to make a decision right now. You can afford to take a day or two to make a decision. Legitimate firms know this and are willing to wait for your decision.
If they CONTACT YOU after finding your resume online, avoid them like the plague!
This looks to me like ambulance chasing. Legitimate career management firms do not scrounge client leads by scanning online resumes. You contact them, they don't chase you when you're down.
On my page for Counseling, Coaching, and Mentoring I list a few associations who certify career counselors, career and/or life coaches, and career management professionals. Each of these provides a free searchable directory of members that you can use to help find the services you need. I like these associations because each has a code of ethics that their members must agree to uphold, along with ways to file complaints if these codes are violated.

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Identity Theft

Online Job Listing an ID Theft Scam by Bob Sullivan (MSNBC, November 4, 2002)
"It was just the job lead Jim needed: a marketing manager position with Arthur Gallagher, a leading international insurance broker. And only days after Jim responded to the job posting on, a human resources director sent along a promising e-mail. We're interested in you, the note said. The salary is negotiable, the clients big. In fact, the clients are so valuable and sensitive that you'll have to submit to a background check as part of the interview process. Eager for work, Jim complied — and sent off just about every key to his digital identity, including his age, height, weight, Social Security number, bank account numbers, even his mother's maiden name.

IT WAS ALL JUST an elaborate identity theft scam designed to prey on the most vulnerable potential victims — the increasing ranks of the unemployed."

How do you as a job seeker protect yourself from this kind of fraud?
Common sense is a good place to start.
  1. Never give out Social Security numbers to employers before an interview. Never give them credit card numbers and bank account numbers, even for a credit check. They are not necessary for a credit check. posts these warnings in the “frequently asked questions” section of its web site. Yes, it is buried, but it is also something you should be reading before using any site.
    The Identity Theft Center reports that it has "heard about several instances where a person placed a "help wanted ad" either on the Internet or in a newspaper and collected SSNs that way." Their advice: "If you send a resume and they reply asking for a SSN prior to an interview, kindly refuse, explaining that you will provide it at the interview itself. Then check the company out with the Better Business Bureau in that area. Make sure it is a legitimate company prior to releasing information." To this I would add call the company to make sure it is also a legitimate employee and advertisement. Look up their number in the phone book. Don't take it from the website or email.
  2. Watch for warning flags in the email received. Like many scams, the messages involved had spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. In addition, the supposed HR Director requested a reply to a personal e-mail address. Any legitimate corporate correspondence should be going through corporate email.

What if an employer asks to do a background check before you even interview?
I knew some of you would ask, so I contacted one of my favorite HR professionals, currently working for a benefits management firm. I added a few explanations to some of her terms [in brackets].

Me: Is it even legal for an employer to ask you to fill out this kind of form before you've even had an interview? Besides all the other pointers the guy missed (lots of misspelled words, grammatical errors, personal email address), should job seekers be wary when a background check is requested before an interview is even scheduled, let alone completed?

Her response: Is it legal? No. Not in the least. To prescreen using background check information is illegal, because it may allow a company to use protected information to deny some candidates the opportunity of employment (i.e. income, criminal history, marital status, etc.). Should candidates be wary of a pre-interview request for this information? Absolutely. Especially the credit card information.

Even after we extend an offer, we don't request that information. We get SSN, DL#, and DOB [social security number, driver's license number, and date of birth] and send it to our verification company along with a signed FCRA [Fair Credit Reporting Act] release. They do all the checking. And there is no reason to do a credit check unless the position is of such a nature as to require a credit check (i.e. a bank position, a financial or accounting position, multi-million dollar project manager, etc.).

I can't think of any possible reason why a company would background check a person before an interview is even scheduled. The closest we come is sending an application and the FCRA release to the candidate after the interview is scheduled with a request to complete the forms and bring them to the interview. If the candidate is offered a position, it saves a little snail-mail time waiting for the FCRA form to go out and come back. If the candidate is not offered a position, I shred the FCRA release.

For more information, please review our information on Credit Reports & Background Checks under Legal Issues in Employment & Hiring.

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Work-at-Home Scams

Work-at-home scams have always been around. They offer you a supposedly easy way to make loads of money in just a little time from the privacy of your own home, but they rarely ever turn out to be what they claim to be. The Internet is no stranger to the proliferation of scams, with employment schemes ranking #6 according to the Consumer Protection Agency. You need to be a smart consumer, particularly when it comes to work-at- home offerings. If anything says you must pay for information or supplies to get started, my advice is to run away fast.

Work-At-Home Schemes from the Federal Trade Commission
...the latest information on their crackdown on fraudulent work-at-home and other business opportunities. You'll also want to look at their information on Finding a Job.
Work-At-Home Schemes
...this document from the Better Business Bureau's Consumer Information Publication Series looks at the growing trend of people working from home, alerting you to the many work-at-home scams which are robbing good people of thousands of dollars. "Work-at-home businesses consistently generate the most inquiries received by the Better Business Bureaus. Of complaints received on the Better Business Bureau's on-line complaint service, 20% relate to work-at-home schemes or business opportunity on-line promotions." Please read this over before you sign on the dotted line or commit any money to any work-at-home opportunity.
Work-at-Home Schemes
...revised February 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission, this publication discusses several of the more popular "work at home" scams, including Medical Billing, Internet Searching, and Rebate Processing. It includes questions to ask of any work-at-home program sponsors and where to file complaints. This guide is available through the Federal Consumer Information Center (Pueblo, Colorado), and many other good free helpful guides can be reviewed online here along with links to many more resources.

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File a Complaint! The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force
Established by order of President Obama in November 2009, this task force was created "to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis, and to prevent another crisis from happening." Is it charged with "improving efforts across the government and with state and local partners to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, recover proceeds for victims and address financial discrimination in the lending and financial markets." They pull together a lot of the information and resources scattered across the many Federal and state agencies charged with fighting fraud in an effort to help you avoid being the victim while also guiding you to those who can help you if you are a victim. One thing I actually appreciate is they have a list of what should be reported to whom. According to this list, many of the employment scams we see online are classified as Cyber Crime and should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center ( Others may be forms of Identity Theft. Note the descriptions of Employment / Business Opportunity Schemes, Reshipping, and Third Party Receiver of Funds.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection. The Commission also works to enhance the smooth operation of the marketplace by eliminating acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. While the FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems, your complaint helps them investigate fraud, and can lead to law enforcement action. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide. Read consumer publications and file complaints online.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
...created by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to "combat the growing problem of fraud occurring over the Internet by providing a vehicle for victims around the country to report incidents of fraud online." Users provide details on specific cases of Internet fraud, and each complaint is carefully reviewed and referred to a law enforcement or regulatory agency for further investigation. Along with the complaint form, the site also contains basic information about the IC3.
The Better Business Bureau
"OUR MISSION is to promote and foster the highest ethical relationship between businesses and the public through voluntary self-regulation, consumer and business education, and service excellence." The Better Business Bureau (BBB) system in the U.S. extends over 98% of the nation; coast-to-coast, including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. File a complaint online or check out a company.
National Association of Attorneys General
The full list of all 50 state Attorneys General, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and other US territories and interests. This site also links you to their web pages so you can get the information you need and file complaints.

You'll also want to file a complaint with any state or county Consumer Affairs agencies that may exist to serve you. You can easily locate these agencies using the list of Index of State and Local Consumer Agencies, available at Remember, if you are filing a complaint against someone who is not in your city or state, you will need to file the complaint in his/her city and state. Most states are alarmed to find out fraudulent companies and individuals are operating within their borders and are very open to helping you. To save time, call before sending a written complaint and ask if the office handles the type of complaint you have and if complaint forms are provided.

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