Scammers target job seekers in the Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) -- If you're looking for a job, scammers may be looking for you, too.

A job scam that tricks you into giving up personal information is going around the Ozarks.

Businesses want you to apply online, and most of the people in here are.
But if you sit down and apply on the wrong website, your information could be going to a scammer.

"It was a very scary thought," said Kelly Cohen.

That's exactly what Kelly Cohen thought happened to her when she applied online for a job.

"I would go back and follow up and one company said they never even received an application from me," said Cohen.

She's worried her personal information ended up somewhere else.

"I didn't give out social security number, it was just phone number and address, but still the thought of knowing that and my email address is kind of scary," said Cohen.

Scammers have been posing as businesses putting up fake job websites.
The sites ask you to put in your name, address, social security number, and resume, to get the job. But that job never comes, and all your information goes straight to the scammer.

"It's not that you shouldn't ever give a company your social security number, it's just you need to verify it's a real company first," said Megan Short of the Missouri Career Center.

And she says there's a way to tell the real job posts from the fake.

"If you're only seeing their website and they don't exist anywhere else other than this specific link, I wouldn't recommend putting any personal information on there," said Short.

As for Kelly Cohen, she got the job she was looking for with a real company, but she says there's one thing she knows to do next time.

Apply directly through the company instead of going through a search," said Cohen.

Another thing you can do is to call the company to verify that that website really is theirs.

Businesses want you to apply online, and most people who visit Missouri Job Centers do. But if you sit down and apply on the wrong website, your information could go to a scammer.

So here's how it works: scammers posing as businesses are put up fake job websites.

They ask you to put in your name, address, social security number, and resume, to get the job.

But that job never comes, and all your information goes straight to the scammer.

At the Job Center they have to weed out those fake job postings, and they say you can too by checking one thing.

“We actually have their tax identification number, every employer has to have that tax identification number, that is what they use to file taxes so every employer has it and we just verify that that number matches the company," said Megan Short with the Missouri Job Center.

Another thing to do she says to call the company to verify that's really their website.

The Missouri Job Center says if you're still not sure if the job site is legitimate, you can go through reputable job boards where the employers are already screened.