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Protect Yourself from Craiglist Fakes

By Kip Carlson

For most of us, April Fool’s Day was two weeks ago.

But everyone looking for summer work or that first career-track job after graduation will run into a year-round version of April Fool’s if you turn to CraigsList to see what positions are available in the area.

Why would someone create a fake job and post it on CraigsList?

Usually to try to get you to turn over personal financial information, or to send them money.

Respond to a fake CraigsList job posting and you may get a return email saying something to this effect: “You’re great! You’re hired! Send us your birthdate and Social Security Number so we can get you on the payroll!”

Or, “You’re perfect for this job! Just send us $500 for training costs, for which you’ll be repaid in your first check!”

At this point, and you probably don’t need to be told this but here it is anyway, never send your sensitive personal information or any money in your initial response to a job posting.

When it comes to spotting those fake postings before sending anything, here’s the first rule of thumb: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A bank teller position sounds great, and even better at $27 an hour. That works out to more than $56,000 per year.

However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the actual median salary for a bank teller is less than half that.

Sometimes, the parts of the posting just don’t add up.

For example, consider a listing with a title line reading PHOTO PROCESSING (Salem, OR), and when you click on it, and the job description reads, “Busy Property Preservation company searching for a new full time employee to join our team.”

How did we get from photo processing to property preservation?

Or consider an ad whose subject line is for a Wrangler in Salem but then indicates the position is at a guest ranch in Sudbury. If the city isn’t around here or doesn’t match up with the location in the subject line, it’s likely an ad that a scammer has posted in numerous cities.

Another clue is a set of listings near each other that have underlines, odd spacing and strange characters in the subject line. For example:

Apr 2 Night Auditor______UA (salem.) food/beverage/hospitality

Apr 2 Shop Clerk ______________________$12.5/hr (salem.) food/beverage/hospitality

Apr 2 ####NEW OPENINGS~~~~~~~~$435/week (salem.) food/beverage/hospitality

Apr 2 @@@Cell Phone Shipping Clerk—————$11/hr. (salem.) food/beverage/hospitality

This should send up a caution flag.

Often, if you call up three or four of these listings next to each other and click on the “reply” box, the email addresses will all be the same and they’ll usually be an @yahoo.com address.

Maybe that same person is hiring for all those wildly divergent positions, but I’m skeptical.

For some positions, the email address will be listed in the text of the ad, but as though it’s trying to be hidden: ==<=>==justicej396==at==+gmail<.com>===

A few legitimate businesses will list their email addresses that way, but it will usually be an address containing the business’ name.

This isn’t to say that none of these ads are legitimate and that you should never respond to them – that’s up to you.

But if you see any of these characteristics in a CraigsList ad, be cautious.

Keep in mind that another way of hunting for jobs is through Chemeketa CareerLink, the online job posting service run by Chemeketa Career Services.

Remember: for job-hunting help – including gaining access to listings on Chemeketa CareerLink – you’re encouraged to visit the Career Services staff.

Appointments can be made on ChemekNet or by visiting our office. Career Services is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Bldg. 2-115.

Kip Carlson is a student employment specialist at Chemeketa’s Salem campus.

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