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What to Do If You Applied to a Fake Job Post

May 30, 2024

You did all the right things: you researched the job market, perfected your résumé and cover letter, and diligently applied to several job openings. Then, after spotting some red flags, you suspect you may have inadvertently applied for a fake job posting.

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the “Scam Tracker Risk Report” released by the Better Business Bureau in March 2024, employment scams are now the second most risky type of scam, surpassed only by online purchases.

Being the victim of a job scam can result in some serious issues, such as identity theft and banking fraud, but the good news is that there are a few steps you can take to report the crime and protect yourself in the future.

Federal Trade Commission

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve sent money or a gift card to a scammer, or if the scammer has made an unauthorized transfer from your bank account, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is your ally. They recommend that you promptly contact the company you used to send the funds (whether that was your bank, credit card company, gift card company, wire transfer company, etc.), inform them of the fraudulent charge, and request them to reverse the transaction and return the funds to you.

In addition, you can report the job scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Here’s what the process looks like:

  • Fill out the FTC’s online form to complete your report. They’ll ask for details such as whether you sent the scammer any money, how much you sent, and when you sent it. You’ll also be asked for the scammer’s contact information, if available. If you have any documentation from the scam, you can also provide it in the report.
  • The FTC will provide guidance on what to do next. (Depending on the nature of the scam, they may recommend that you file your report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau instead. You may also be directed to contact your state attorney general. Older adults and people with disabilities can also contact their local adult protective services agency.)
  • Your report will also be added to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database, where federal, state, and local law enforcement can access it when investigating the scam and others like it.

Be aware that the FTC does not respond to individual fraud reports, and they will not take action on your behalf. However, they will use your report—and others—to conduct investigations and bring cases against scammers. If they can recover funds from a case, they will return that money to anyone who reported the scam.

If the scammer stole your personal information, you can report the identity theft to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. First, you’ll complete their online questionnaire. The FTC will then use the information from your report to create your personalized recovery plan, including information on how to monitor your credit. If you create an account on the FTC’s website, they will also guide you through the recovery steps, track your progress, update your recovery plan along the way, and even prefill any forms and letters you’ll need to send throughout the process.

Internet Crime Complaint Center

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate cybercrime. When filing a report with the IC3, you’ll be asked to provide the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Details of any financial information (such as your account information, the date and amount of the transaction, and the name of the recipient)
  • Contact information of the scammer, if available
  • Details of how you were scammed

Analysts at the IC3 will review your report and share that information with international, federal, state, and/or local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. You will receive a message from the IC3 confirming that your report was received. However, keep in mind that they do not conduct investigations, so you will need to contact the investigating authorities for updates on the status of your complaint.

Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides verified profiles and reports to help people identify businesses and charities they can trust. Their services are provided to consumers free of charge.

The BBB Scam Tracker is a free tool you can use to report a scam. You can also use it to find information about other scams if you suspect you’ve been victimized. (When searching for similar scams, if you find one that sounds familiar, you can follow the provided links to inform the BBB and share any additional information you have.)

To report a scam with the BBB:

  • Use their “Report a Scam” form and follow the step-by-step guide to complete your report.
  • The BBB has a dedicated team of investigators who will review the information on your report. They may reach out to you if they need more information.
  • Once the investigators have verified your report, it will be published on the Scam Tracker website. (If the BBB recommends submitting a business complaint instead, they will contact you directly.) This database is available to the public and includes detailed reports to help others avoid similar scams. Scam Tracker reports include helpful information such as:
    • Description of the scam
    • Scam type
    • Business name
    • Targeted person’s location
    • Scam ID
    • Scammer information
    • Date reported
  • The BBB will also share your report with federal and state agencies and local law enforcement.

Notify the Job Site of a Fake Job Posting

After you’ve notified the agencies discussed above, it’s also a good idea to notify whichever website or platform you used to find the fake job listing. For example, on LinkedIn, you can find the report link by going to the job posting and clicking the “More” icon. On a listing on Indeed, you’ll open the job description and click “Report Job” at the bottom of the post.

Reporting the scam will help the site remove the job listing, block the scammer, and contact other applicants to warn them of the scam.

Looking Ahead 

While it can feel overwhelming and frustrating to deal with the impacts of applying to a fake job posting, taking these steps can help you move forward and put the scam behind you. When you’re ready to get back into the game and look for a new job, The Virtual Copywriter is here to help you write the perfect cover letter, résumé, and LinkedIn profile.

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Sources

https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker, https://www.bbb.org/all/faq, https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/28372-bbb-scam-alert-how-to-spot-a-job-scam-no-matter-how-sophisticated, https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/job-scams#what%20to%20do, https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/faq, https://www.identitytheft.gov/,  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/i-think-i-or-someone-i-know-was-the-victim-of-a-scam-or-financial-exploitation-who-can-i-contact-for-help-en-1777/,  https://www.linkedin.com/advice/3/how-do-you-report-job-scams-protect-yourself, https://support.indeed.com/hc/en-us/articles/360028156452-How-to-Report-a-Job,  https://www.ic3.gov/Home/FAQ

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