North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Avoid scams when looking for work


By Attorney General Roy Cooper

Summer is right around the corner, and many North Carolinians are looking for ways to make some extra money or start a new career. Finding a job can be hard, and scammers may try to take advantage of people in need of work.

The Internet can be a great tool for finding jobs, but always be careful when applying for jobs online. After you post or send your resume, you may get offers from scammers instead of legitimate employers. What sounds like a great job can really be a trick to steal your personal information or your money.

For example, my office has heard recently from consumers about phony employers that claim to need personal assistants. Job applicants are told they’ll receive a check to buy items to ship to the business and then get to keep the change. Unfortunately, the check turns out to be fake and any money you’ve spent comes out of your own funds.

Learn the warning signs to spot job scams like these, and learn how to protect yourself when job hunting:

  • Be careful when posting your resume online. Think carefully about the personal and contact information you provide because it will be available to everyone. For example, consider listing an email address you use only for online job searching.

  • Don’t fall for phony jobs. Check out the job and the company thoroughly before you accept an online job offer. Jobs that promise work as a mystery shopper or say you’ll earn thousands of dollars a week by working from home are usually too good to be true. The mystery shopper jobs are usually counterfeit check scams designed to steal your money, and most work-at-home offers wind up costing you far more than you ever make.

  • Be skeptical if you’re asked for money upfront. Don’t agree to pay upfront for lists of potential jobs or to apply for a job. If you’re offered training or education, check it out thoroughly before you agree to pay any money, and consider reputable local alternatives, such as your Community College, first.

  • Guard your personal information. Job scammers may ask for your Social Security Number, saying they need it to run a background check. Don’t provide your SSN to a potential employer until or unless you’ve checked out the company thoroughly and know the job is legitimate. Never agree to email your SSN or other personal financial information because email is not secure.

  • Beware of credit check requests. Some job scammers will say they need to check your credit and send you to a website for a credit check. You think you’re paying a dollar for a credit report so you can get a job. The scammers use this trick to get your bank account information and charge you more money.

Remember: if a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before you accept any job offer, do some research to make sure your new employer is reputable.

If you spot an employment scam, report it to my Consumer Protection Division toll free at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.  You can also file a consumer complaint with us at