Few things are as exciting as getting that first job out of school. You just finished getting your education. You’re eager to put all the knowledge you’ve been gathering to good use. It’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labors.
It’s time to get a job.
Then days of hunting turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. You start to get a little depressed. Your mom dusts off your old lawn mowing signs because she thinks you’ll feel better if you just work. But she doesn’t get that you didn’t go to school just to do what you did for money back in high school.
Then you get an email. It’s from a job agent that claims he has a job for you. But to apply for it, you must be a member of his site and pay a fee. After all this time, you don’t care what it takes. Finally! You have a job!
The fee is a little expensive but since you are about to start making real money you can handle it. So, you pay the fee, the site accepts your money, and you gain access to what you think will be your first real job. Then reality slaps you in the face as you realize you’ve been scammed.
There was no job for you. It was just a link to a job on another site; one you already applied to and got rejected. Anger begins to get in as you realize you’ve been duped, so you fire off a quick email demanding your money back.
But then you get the ‘failed to send’ message a day later because the address doesn’t exist. You go back to the web address thinking you got the email wrong, but the site no longer exists either.
Job scams are all too real
It’s a depressing reality, but there are way too many people in the world that are willing to prey on the hopes and dreams of others to make a quick buck. They find it easier to scam people out of their hard-earned money rather than put in an honest day’s work to earn their own.
Now that people do quite a bit of job searching online, it has gotten even easier for them to do so. The following are some of the more common scams every mariner should be aware of:
You get an email that appears legitimate and talks about a job you’d be great for. You just need to fill out this form so that they can send a link to the job back. Simple enough, right? But then you never get a link. Instead, they sell your information to third parties and you are flooded with marketing emails and phone calls.
Too much personal information too soon
During an application process, you are going to end up sending a lot of personal information to your potential employer. So, when this potential employer requests it, you think nothing of it.
When they ask for banking info, so they can set up direct deposit you think nothing of it. If your paycheck goes right into your account, your spouse can take care of the bills. It may seem strange for them to want that info so soon, but you’re eager to get the job and think nothing of it.
But then the details of your new job never arrive. Suddenly your bank account is overdrawn, and you have eight maxed out credit cards in your name. Your identity has been stolen.
It’s bad enough that you are struggling to find work, but then you need to file for unemployment so you can pay some of your bills. You know you need to do so sooner rather than later, but you struggle to find the time because you’re hunting for work. Then along comes a company that claims it can apply for you, and can even expedite your claim for a small fee.
Not only can they not expedite your claim, but they’ve stolen your money and probably your identity as well.
Who wouldn’t do it? Who wouldn’t pay a small fee or even a moderate one if it meant they could get a great job? Sadly, when these ‘job recruiters’ ask for a processing fee, admission fee, recruitment fee, or money for airfare, a visa, work permit, or security they are lying. They promise you’ll get reimbursed when you start working, but then the job details never come.
Don’t get tricked into paying a fee for a job; it’s actually illegal. The International Maritime Organization prohibits companies from doing so. If they claim not to know this regulation, they are more than likely fake (and lying).
The 1-900 scam
This scam is not a common one but one to watch out for nonetheless. The fake agency or website says there is a job waiting for you. All you need to do is go through a phone interview, and they give you a 1-900 number. It sounds fishy to call a 1-900 number, so you question it. They tell you not to worry and that the call will be quick. Then they remind you of how much money you’re going to make at your new job.
So, you call it—and wait. You are put on hold and wait some more. Right when you are about to hang up, someone comes on to say your next. So, you wait a little longer. You finally grow tired of waiting and hang up. You email your initial contact but never get a reply. However, when your phone bill arrives, you have a hefty charge from the 1-900 number.
After months of searching, you get an email from a job placement agency saying they can help. They talk about how much success they’ve had placing mariners. From what you can tell, the agency looks legit. The reviews look legit, and there is nothing you can see that is wrong with the agency.
So, you send a resume. Then you respond to a questionnaire. You get a few promising leads sent to your email, apply to them, but nothing pans out. Then he says he has a premium job board for you to access for a fee. Since you’ve been corresponding for weeks, you trust that it’s legit.
You never get a job from the ‘premium board’ and eventually cancel. What you don’t realize is that no premium board ever existed. How can you tell? Remember how you thought it looked funny for such a great job placement agency to have a yahoo email address? Any company worth a wooden nickel is not going to utilize a free email service.
So—what do you do?
There are tons of potential scams out there. Some want your information so that they can steal your identity. Some are just trying to steal a little money from you because if they steal $50 from 1000 people, it adds up.
The really troublesome aspect of it all is that the scammers are getting better and better every day. So, what can you do to combat this scourge? Stick with what you know is legitimate. Work with your school’s job placement office. Only use websites you are confident are legitimate. Network. Your friends may know of openings at their company or someone else’s. Join a union.
It is no fun being out of work. But it is even less fun to be out of work and fighting identity theft at the same time. In this day and age, better safe than sorry.