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It’s that time of year, where some may be looking for a holiday employment. Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker reveals employment scams are on the rise. While unemployment numbers are very low, many employers are having to be competitive to get the help they need, but unfortunately that also gives way to con artists inserting themselves into the picture.

Since January, North America residents have reported more than 3,465 employment scams to BBB Scam Tracker with over $3 million reported lost. Compare this to the estimated 1,751 employments scams with over $800,000 lost from January to October of last year. Idahoans have already reported 20 employment scams with more than $700 lost this year.

With the busy holiday hiring season underway, job seekers should be aware of the scope of these scams. Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific wants job seekers to be aware of the way’s scammers trick “new employees” into giving out their personal information or their hard-earned money. These con artists may take advantage of this opportunity to prey on job seekers with scam job postings, fake recruiter emails and work-at-home schemes.

To avoid employment scams, job hunters should look out for red flags like positions that require little training. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. These positions don’t usually require special training or licensing, which makes it appealing to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads.

Also vague company descriptions can be a cause for concern; if you can’t identify the company’s contact information, owner, headquarters or even product from its online ad this should be a deterrent. It’s important to do research yourself, you can check online at bbb.org/northwest-pacific to see if the employer has a good rating. But beware legitimate companies can be impersonated. Make sure you are on the real employer website.

A couple of other things to be wary of are job applications that require a fee. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Also any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee — if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

If you’ve been a victim of an employment scam, help others avoid being scammed by filing a report at BBB.org/ScamTracker. You can also go to BBB.org for information on employment scams and how to avoid them.

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Editor’s Note: Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau. An Idaho native, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in broadcast communications. Johnson is a former news reporter and weather anchor in Twin Falls (KMVT) and Pocatello (KPVI). She joins the BBB with 10 years of experience in public relations and marketing.

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