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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(December 19, 2003) - We remember looking for work in the newspaper classified ads from 30 years ago. Fresh from college (with a less than perfect GPA), it was clear that the hard core engineering and technical jobs were out of reach. That left, more or less, retail positions and something called "management".

The retail positions were never scams. Just awful work for small thinking bosses in cramped quarters with bad pay and terrible hours. The management positions, on the other hand, were often seamy little gigs with investment requirements.

We're never surprised by what appears as a job listing in a classified advertising context.

It's much better today than it has ever been before. One of the untold benefits of online recruiting is that Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs all exercise some level of quality control over the content of their sites. There are teams that are constantly watching the databases of jobs to see if the jobs are real, if the work is as described and so on.

So, it comes as a surprise that the job boards are being linked as causal agents in the latest round of work scams. (See this article, too.)

Essentially, a low level of money-laundering and identity fraud is being passed off as a work-at-home job. The organizers arrange for packages and money to be forwarded to a new 'worker' who repackages and forwards the material or transfers funds from one account to another. At $500Million in reported transactions, the operations are small and the approach is still evolving.

What's surprising is that the news stories are hyping the scams as a problem that job boards should be fixing. Complete with guidelines for job hunters, the reporters act as if this is a huge thing:

  1. Don't send confidential personal information such as your bank account numbers or credit-card numbers, and don't respond to odd requests, such as for your hair color or marital status. "There is not a single employer who needs your bank account information or your mother's maiden name," Dixon said.
  2. Think twice before sharing your Social Security number. The federal government often requires your SSN to apply online, but for other potential employers, ask whether you can bring your SSN to the first interview. "An employer may ask for your SSN to conduct a background check. It's a good idea to wait until a first interview to give an employer that," Dixon said. And if the employer insists? "That's a tough call right now," she said.
  3. Be particularly careful when dealing with overseas employers. While there are legitimate overseas jobs advertised online, most of the scams are offering work in other countries. "The ones we've found tend to be overseas," Mullins said.
    - from CBS MarketWatch

We're less certain about cause and consequence. Knowing that there's no free lunch is usually a part of early training. Taking a free lunch and being surprised that there's a cost doesn't strike us as a problem of the job board. Just because morons use the service doesn't really imply that the vendors have responsibility for their stupidity.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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