No, you shouldn’t pay to get that job

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Looking for a job can be stressful enough, but now we can add one more layer of stress to the mix: recruitment scams.

There’s an increase in false claims to recruit on behalf of a legitimate, well-known company like Shell.

The scammer will notify the candidate that their qualifications are suitable to work as an employee and then will solicit the transfer of funds for work permits, insurance policies, etc. Shell has even published a dedicated page on its website to highlight the problem and to reassure applicants that Shell will never ask for money during the application process.

Since I run my own business, I was almost caught up in one of these scams. I have contact information on the LinkedIn platform and was recently contacted by what I thought was a legitimate company searching for a content writer. So happens that I had a contact at the company making the inquiry — or so I thought.

I went to the website to check out the posting and look around on the website in general. It all seemed legitimate and I had some knowledge of the company so I saw nothing out of the ordinary online. As one more precaution, though, I figured I’d contact my former co-worker to see if the request was legitimate. Turns out the company wasn’t hiring so of course he didn’t know who the recruiter was. Upon closer inspection, the website was misspelled by one letter.

I should have caught it on my own, but scammers are clever in how they can deceive us and lead us right where they want us to go. I was glad that I went to the extra effort to verify the legitimacy of the offer. This likely helped me avoid disaster.

As for the recruiter listed on the job posting and on the website? I looked her up on Facebook to see if she had an account. Turns out she did — and her profile said she was a massage therapist in Dallas, Texas. She either wasn’t aware that her name and image were being used in such a scam or she was in on it.

Companies like Shell say to be on the lookout for any communication coming from a non-company website address like Gmail or Yahoo. Often the use of English is poor, and before the candidate is actually hired, money is requested. If you encounter any of these situations when applying for a job, be cautious and double check information to protect yourself. Never, ever pay money up front for the promise of being hired.

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SMP IS HERE TO HELP: Did you know that we have a wonderful resource in town that will help seniors prevent, detect and report Medicare fraud? It’s Senior Medicare Patrol, or SMP.

I recently met up with one of the volunteers in the organization, Doug Wheeler. The SMP is part of the Area Agency on Aging of North Idaho and they are knowledgeable about scams targeting seniors and their Medicare benefits. He shared some good tips with me to pass along.

Treat your Medicare card like you would your credit card number and don’t share it with any strangers. In fact, Doug suggests that if you need to carry your Medicare card with you, make a photocopy and black out part of the number so if it’s lost or stolen, your whole number can’t be seen. Of course, you’ll need to remember the part of the number that you obscured.

Check your Medicare statements and look for any mistakes. Most of the time the errors are coding issues, but sometimes things are charged to your account that weren’t provided or they are double charged. Get these things corrected for accurate reporting to make sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. Report any suspicious calls you receive from anyone trying to get your Medicare information, and remember: Medicare won’t call and ask you for this information.

If you need any assistance, the SMP is here to help. Contact them at (208) 667-3179 ext. 232 and ask for either Doug or Joe, or visit their website: www.aaani.org

They’re also looking for volunteers, so if you want to pursue a worthy cause, give them a call and see if it would be something you might like to do.

•••

LANDLINE vs. ROBOCALLS: Several readers said the *77 did not work on their landline. If anyone using a landline has been able to find a way to block robocalls, please let me know so I can pass the tip along. Also, let me know which carrier you use.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

•••

If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at (208) 274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m a fulltime copywriter working with businesses on marketing, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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