While phone and email scams are still prevalent, most fraudsters use other techniques to try to scam individuals and businesses. Two common scams in Canada right now are centred around false jobs and fake cheques.
When it comes to job scams and cheque fraud, fraudsters focus their efforts on individuals looking for work, or those trying to sell items for extra cash. Both scams are easy to avoid. Here’s what to look for.
Protecting yourself from a job scam
The internet makes searching for jobs easier than ever but be careful of job opportunities that sound too good to be true. Fraudsters behind these job scams eagerly recruit new hires, making the interview process appear professional and legitimate. Once the candidate has been accepted for the position, the scammer will ask for personal information, including Social Insurance Number (SIN), driver's licence or passport and banking information.
Typically, onboarding for a new job does require this type of documentation, however, a legitimate employer will not demand this information during or directly after the initial interview or job offer. Many companies have a Human Resource representative that facilitates onboarding and gathers the appropriate personal information required. If your interviewer is playing all of those roles, it is a red flag.
Another red flag to be aware of is prospective “employers” asking for money up-front. You should never have to pay for a job opportunity, even if its for equipment or at the promise of being reimbursed.
Top 7 red flags in job scams
- “Employers” are reaching out to you even when you didn't apply to the job.
- The emails they use are from generic email accounts rather than company accounts -i.e. Ryanpeters@gmail.com vs Ryanpeters@legitimatecompany.com.
- The job listing is not located on the company website. Legitimate companies that use listing platforms to post available job descriptions will also have the job posting on their company website.
- You're hired without a proper interview being conducted.
- The pay seems too good to be true.
- They ask for a money transfer or expect you to pay for equipment up front.
- They don't want to meet in person or virtually. Regardless of the situation, a company should have safe protocols for a new employee's in-person or virtual onboarding.
When in doubt, reject the job offer and search for opportunities on company websites that you know and trust.
Protecting yourself from a cheque scam
Selling unwanted items to make some extra money is a great idea. However, not every potential buyer is after your items, some may want direct access to your money. Don't let scammers defer you from selling items online but do learn how to differentiate a legitimate buyer from a fraudster.
Whether you list an online ad for local sale or through a website, scammers will typically:
- Offer to pay more than the requested price
- Ask you to ship items to a different location
Fraudsters commonly use an overpayment scam to trick sellers. They will send you a cheque or money order to purchase your item but send a larger amount than your asking price. They will claim the extra money is to cover shipping or customs fees which you must send to a third party, or simply that they sent the wrong amount by accident.
You will then be directed to deposit their fraudulent cheque or money order to your account and send the additional funds by e-transfer or wire transfer to the third party the fraudster has specified. Only once the scammer’s cheque or money order is processed by your bank, will you discover that it is fraudulent. By then, you will have already sent the item and your extra hard-earned money and lost your item!
How to avoid cheque or overpaying scams
- Beware of buyers who are sending you more money than you are asking for and don't accept payment over and above the cost of your item as listed online.
- Use online platforms that help you to safely sell your product. you may need to pay a small percentage for the service, but this also keeps you safe from scammers.
- Instead of a cheque or money order, request a cash or an e-transfer that will be deposited directly into your account. Always make sure the money is cleared and validated before sending the item.
Protecting yourself and your money from all fraud
Fraudsters are working around the clock to scam you, but thankfully we’re working just as hard to prevent this from happening. If you ever detect suspicious activity on your account, report it immediately. Don't click on suspicious links sent through email or text messages. Banks and other trusted financial institutions do not email or contact their customers requesting account numbers, SINs, or other personal details.