As the holiday season approaches, and with labor shortages still felt acutely in the retail sectors, retailers and shipping companies alike are preparing to hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees. This is great news for job seekers because, while holiday jobs are usually temporary, many retailers end up hiring some holiday workers permanently. Amid all the legitimate jobs, however, job seekers should beware of employment scams such as mystery shopper jobs that don’t exist.

Employment scams increased as many Americans were laid off or furloughed from their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading Better Business Bureau (BBB) to publish an in-depth investigative study on these scams in September 2021. More than 3,300 job scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker last year, with monetary losses totaling more than $2 million. About 2,600 job scams have been reported so far in 2022.

A St. Louis woman reported losing $2,400 in November 2021 after applying through Indeed for a job she thought was with a major software company. She said the company asked her to send money for office supplies, requesting the funds first through Zelle and then, when that transaction failed, as a Home Depot gift card. Ultimately, the woman said the scammers were able to access her bank account and empty it out.

Tips for seasonal job hunters:

• Start your job search earlier rather than later. Retail, shipping, restaurants and catering companies are common sources of seasonal employment. This is the time for job hunters to determine which job suits them best, identify companies they’d like to work for and then begin submitting applications and resumes.

• Work where you shop. Try to identify seasonal employment opportunities at businesses where you shop. You will already be familiar with the company and its products, and discounts available to employees can mean significant savings when shopping for gifts.

• Put your best foot forward. Even if you are just picking up applications at stores in the mall, dress neatly and be prepared for an interview. This includes being familiar with the company’s brand and products. Retail job hunters need to focus on impressing potential employers with their customer service skills because they may be dealing with stressed-out shoppers, long check-out lines and holiday returns.

• Be flexible. Full-time employees usually have first choice on preferred hours and shifts. As a seasonal employee, you can expect to work long, sometimes inconvenient hours, possibly including Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. If this is a second job in addition to your day job, be upfront and clear with your new employer about your available hours.

Beware of classified ads for mystery shopper jobs or other employment opportunities requiring payment. As detailed above, these scams may steal money from victims; they may also use victims’ personal information to commit fraud. Report any scams at