Job scams increase during pandemic

In this year’s scorching job market, competition for seasonal jobs this holiday season will be fierce.

Shipping companies and online retailers like Amazon have seen their business explode as the pandemic has driven online shopping soaring, and they are expected to hire thousands of seasonal workers this holiday season. Traditional brick and mortar retailers are also hiring seasonal workers.

Plans by large retailers to hire seasonal workers are good news for job seekers in these difficult times. While vacation jobs are generally temporary, many retailers end up hiring vacation workers on a permanent basis. Among all the legitimate jobs, however, job seekers should be wary of job scams such as mystery shopper jobs that don’t exist.

Job scams have increased as many Americans have been laid off or fired from their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 14 million victims in 2020 reporting financial losses totaling $ 2 billion. BBB released an in-depth investigative study in September 2021 that takes a closer look at job scams.

So far in 2021, over 3,000 job scams have been reported to BBB Scam Tracker.

A Saint-Louis woman said she lost $ 1,000 in November 2021 after applying for a “freelance media specialist” job. She told BBB Scam Tracker that she was hired quickly after an on-site interview via WhatsApp and then received a mobile check to purchase a computer and other equipment needed for the job. The so-called “company’s” human resources manager then told the woman to send $ 1,000 through Zelle to a supplier. In reality, the mobile check was a fake, the woman’s account was frozen for fraud, and her contact disappeared.

Fake checks are a staple in many job scams, appearing in fraudulent job postings such as mystery shoppers, car wraps, nanny or caregiver jobs, and even bookings for small legitimate businesses such as photographers. The BBB’s 2018 survey study on fake checks provides more details on their role in job scams.

Tips for seasonal job seekers:

• Start your job search sooner rather than later. Retailing, shipping, restaurants and catering businesses are common sources of seasonal employment. Now is the time for job seekers to determine which position is best for them, identify companies they would like to work for, and then start submitting applications and resumes.

• Work where you shop. Try to identify seasonal employment opportunities at the companies where you shop. You already know the company and its products, and the discounts offered to employees can mean big savings when buying freebies.

• Put your best foot forward. Even if you’re just picking up applications from the stores in the mall, dress neat and prepare for an interview. This includes knowledge of the company’s brand and products. Retail job seekers should strive to impress potential employers with their customer service skills as they may be faced with stressed buyers, long lines and returns. vacation.

• Be flexible. Full-time employees usually have the first choice over preferred hours and shifts. As a seasonal employee, you can expect to work long, sometimes impractical hours, perhaps including Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. If this is a second job in addition to your day job, be upfront and clear with your new employer about your available hours.

• Beware of classified ads for mystery shopper jobs or other employment opportunities requiring payment. As detailed above, these scams can steal money from victims; they can also use the personal information of victims to commit fraud. Report any scams at

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for the Better Business Bureau.

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