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Crooks lure job seekers in tough economy

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By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's been a rough year for Richelle Tomlins, a divorced, single mother of five.

"I'm a victim of the economy, foreclosed house and unable to find a job, seeking state help, being that the situation with the children and trying to make it," says Tomlins.

So when she found a job listing online to become nanny that paid $30 an hour, it seemed like a good idea.

"I clicked on it just to find out more information about it," explains Tomlins.

Tomlins began corresponding with what she thought was a company called the International Nanny Agency.

"I proceeded to fill out the application which of course it being a nanny position asked for personal information, your name, address, previous address, other names that you've been known by, social security number, date of birth," Tomlins says.

Then she says, there was a red flag.  Tomlins was asked to send an $85 application fee to Istanbul, Turkey.

She did some more homework and contacted the International Nanny Association where officials said they'd never heard of such an organization.

Local Better Business Bureau President Leonard Crain says unfortunately, as the economy worsened, so did claims of work at home scams, and non-existent employment.

Most are an attempt to steal your identity.  However, Crain says there are some ways to protect it.

"Look for physical addresses, telephone numbers, call the company directly, look for other ways to get information about the company," says Crain.

Crain says many fraudulent websites will pattern their look after existing companies, so consumers have to go out of their way to make sure it's the real thing.

Another tip relates to resumes.

"If you post your resume online to a job search service, be careful about answering any emails, do not click on any links, or those kinds of things and provide your personal information," adds Crain.

As for Tomlins, she's contacted police and the credit bureaus, but most importantly, learned a difficult lesson.

"When it comes to jobs, like this and your personal information, it does, there are quite a few people out there maybe trying to scam, but do some homework."

Officials at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer say they've pulled that particular posting from their print classifieds, and it's in the process of being killed online.

A few more tips to remember when searching for jobs on the web include:

Don't pay any up front fees.

Also, people should not be requesting things like your social security number or your mother's maiden name during the application process.


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