Scammers have been using employment scams to trick people out of their personal information and money for years. These scams often target students or others looking for part-time jobs. Recently, BBB Scam Tracker has seen multiple reports of a tempting employment scam that appears to be a friendly family looking for a pet sitter.
How the Scam Works
A very polite-seeming person contacts you through social media, a legitimate job website, or your student email with what sounds like an excellent job offer. First, the person tries to earn your trust by sharing a lot of personal information, such as their name, age, pets’ names, and job. Then, they give you a long story about how they are moving to your area and will need a pet sitter immediately. They offer you a generous hourly rate or ask you to name your price. Because you are such a good fit, they don’t even need to interview you in person.
Once you accept the job, the scammers get down to business. They may ask you for sensitive personal information, such as your full name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and banking information, claiming they need it to set up direct deposit or pay you in advance. In some cases, they may send you a check for a large amount of money and ask you to deduct your wages and use the rest to purchase supplies. If you follow their instructions, you’ll lose your own money paying for supplies when it comes to light that the check was a fake.
How to Avoid the Scam
Never give your personal information to strangers. Don’t share sensitive details like your home address, Social Security number, or bank account information with someone you’ve never met. You should only give this information to a person or business you know and trust.
Do thorough research. If a person contacts you with a pet sitting job and a long story about their life, spend the time to verify the details. Ask to connect on social media and look up the home address they provide. Don’t accept the job if the person is hesitant to tell you specifics or changes the subject when you ask for more information.
Stay alert to red flags. Correspondence with grammatical errors, offers to hire without an interview, and pay that seems “too good to be true” are all classic elements of a scam. If you notice any of these red flags, steer clear.
Understand how checks work. If someone sends you a check and asks you to deposit it, know that your bank will credit the funds to your account before they are transferred to your account. It can take a few weeks to discover a check is false. If you spend the money before then, the bank will hold you accountable for the funds. If you are unsure about the source of a check, wait 30 days before you spend it. Don’t give in to pressure to transfer the funds to someone else before then.
Visit BBB.org for more tips on how to avoid employment scams. Read more about job scams offering positions as a secret shopper or driving around with a car wrap.
If you’ve been the victim of a job scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others recognize and avoid common scam tactics.