It is the season for eggnog lattes and warm fireplaces, and to earn some extra money before you head out to do your holiday shopping. Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants to make sure you are informed with tips to stay safe during this holiday employment season.

Our Scam Tracker program has show employment scams are on the rise. Since January, North America residents have reported more than 3,465 employment scams to BBB Scam Tracker with over $3 million reported lost. Compare this to the estimated 1,751 employments scams with more than $800,000 lost from January to October of last year. Washingtonians have already reported 67 employment scams with more than $44,600 lost this year.

Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific wants job seekers to be aware of employment scams that often trick “new employees” into giving out personal information or hard-earned money. With fall upon us, many job seekers may be looking for an easy way to make some extra cash to get through the upcoming holidays. Scammers may take advantage of this opportunity to prey on job seekers with scam job postings, fake recruiter emails and work-at-home schemes.

To avoid employment scams, job hunters should look for these red flags:

Positions that require little training. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant or customer service rep. These positions don’t usually require special training or licensing, which makes it appealing to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads.

Vague company descriptions. It’s a huge red flag if you can’t identify the company’s contact information, owner, headquarters or product from its online ad. Check online at bbb.org/northwest-pacific to see if the employer has a good rating. Also, watch for legitimate companies being impersonated. Find the real employer website to verify that the job posting is real.

No interview. If you are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it’s most likely a scam. Be wary of jobs that hire on the spot or conduct interviews via online chat or instant-messaging services.

Job applications that require a fee. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.

Recruiters who don’t disclose information. A legitimate recruiter will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer) and what happens if you do not find a job.

If you’ve been a victim or know of someone who has been a victim of an employment scam, help others avoid being scammed by filing a report at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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