BBB warns of summer job scams

"Many students seeking summer jobs may have little to no previous work experience, And are tempted to apply for jobs that require limited work experience but offer high salaries," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "However, the reality is these offers may be scams rather than legitimate work opportunities." Ads are posted everyday in newspapers and on the Internet that promise "Summer jobs; make $300 a day" or "last year our employees made $10,000 over the summer". The intent of these ads generally is to gather personal identity information or to get money from job seekers.

Here are 10 tip-offs that the "employment opportunity" could be a scam:

1. Big bucks for simple tasks. Watch out if they promise to pay you a lot of money for jobs that don't seem to require much effort or skill. If it sounds too good to be true, it might be a scam.

2. Job offers out of nowhere from strangers. If they offer you a job without getting an application from you, meeting you, or doing an interview, it's probably a scam. Don't hand your personal information, especially your Social Security Number or credit card information to such people. This could lead to identity theft.

3. Requests for up-front payments. If someone wants you to make an advance payment to partake in a new business opportunity - especially if it's a big investment, or you don't have much information about the deal - this is a red flag. "Advance fee scams" are very common and they come in many varieties.

4. They ask you to wire the money. If you wire a payment to somebody, it's gone forever. Wire transfers of money are a convenient and perfectly legitimate service. But scam artists often ask you to wire payments that they are requesting (especially to destinations in other countries) because they know you won't be able to get your money back.

5. High pressure to do it now. Don't be in a hurry to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or to make a business investment, particularly if the other party is asking you to spend your money on the deal. Take your time and check it out. If somebody tries to convince you that this is a "limited time" offer and you have to act now, just tell them to forget it. High pressure is a common sign that something's wrong.

6. Refusal to give you full details in writing. Ask for complete information in writing. Look carefully at any documentation they might provide to make sure it answer all your questions. If they won't give details, or don't respond to questions, don't do business with them.

7. References are missing or a bit suspicious. A real business should be able to give you professional references, ask for references and check them yourself. Even if the references seem good, don't make your decision based on references alone. Do a careful background check; free Business Reviews are available at

8. Contact information is missing or doesn't make sense. Be very cautious if a company is trying to get you to accept a job, but seems to lack any established physical location with a real street address. A cell phone number and website address are not enough contact information. If there is an address, it's worth taking a moment to check it out on the Internet.

9. They want you to buy expensive items. Be cautious if they expect you to make a major purchase of equipment, software, inventory, or information in order to get started in business. It seems like it might be a real business opportunity - but it's not; the buyer makes the purchase and never receives the things needed to set up the business.

10. It has a bad rating with the BBB! Victims do complain to the BBB about work at home scams. It only takes minutes to check a company's record with us at

"Your BBB can be reached 24/7 at our website," added Bernas. "For more valuable tips, visit our Facebook page at

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