Roughly one in six American job seekers have fallen for a scam when searching for work online, but victims are much more likely to be among the youngest Americans in the U.S. workforce, according to a recent survey. Considering that young people are generally seen to be more Internet-savvy than older people, it’s interesting that they’re more susceptible to scams, but millennials have a certain quality that might make them more likely to take the bait: desperation.
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The unemployment rate was 5.2% in August, but 20-somethings drive up that average: In the same month, the unemployment rate was 8.8% among 20- to 24-year-olds and 6% for 25- to 29-year-olds. Their need for work might be leading them into the hands of scammers.
Job-search site FlexJob conducted a survey of its users, and among the 2,600 respondents, 17% reported falling victim to a job scam at least once. Twenty percent of respondents ages 20 to 29 said they’d been scammed, while only 13% of those ages 60 to 69 said they’d had such an experience. Information on FlexJob’s survey methodology wasn’t readily available, so it may not be a representative sample of online job seekers, but it highlights an important issue facing anyone looking for a job — scammers are out there and you’re the target.
It’s hard enough to go through the process of applying for jobs that you hope suit you professionally and financially, let alone wade through false opportunities. These scams are generally ploys to steal consumers’ money or identity, which can cause lasting damage to one’s finances and personal security.
When searching for a job, be wary of unsolicited job offers, offers that require you to pay something as part of the hiring process, instant job offers and high compensation for little work. Research companies before you apply for a job, and refrain from sharing sensitive information during an online job-application process. Verify the legitimacy of a company and the position you’re considering, especially if applying for a work-from-home gig that requires you to do the entire application and hiring process remotely. Losing money to a scam can be a huge burden, particularly if you’re unemployed, but having your personal information (like your Social Security Number) compromised can damage your finances and potentially make you a victim of a identity theft. You can keep an eye on changes in your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com to scope out potential signs of identity theft.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
Christine DiGangi covers personal finance for Credit.com. Previously, she managed communications for the Society of Professional Journalists, served as a copy editor of The New York Times News Service and worked as a reporter for the Oregonian and the News & Record. More by Christine DiGangi