Looking for a new job can be a very exciting time in your career, but it can also be a little bit stressful too. From long hours spent trawling job boards, to rejected applications, the search can take its toll on even the most seasoned job hunter after a while.
Sadly, there are fraudsters out there that try to take advantage of job hunters hoping to secure their dream role. What’s more, data has revealed that those between 18 and 24 years old are most likely to be targeted by fraudsters and that victims will lose an average of £4,000 as a result of a job scam.
But before you panic, there is good news. If you’re currently on the job search or you’re thinking about looking for a new role, there are several ways you can protect yourself against these scams. Getting clued up on the signs can reduce your likelihood of falling victim, as can making yourself aware of the most popular scams currently out there.
With cybercrimes like this on the rise, we’ve pulled together a list of four of the most popular job scams online right now so you can keep an eye out for these during your job hunt.
- Advance fee scams
One of the biggest scams out there is advanced fee scams in which fraudsters ask for payments for a number of different reasons. This can also be one of the biggest warning signs of a scam. During your job search, it is very unlikely that you will need to part with your cash, that is unless you’re paying for specialist job sites or CV writing services so if you’re asked for money, be wary. Some of the most popular advance fee scams run by fraudsters include:
- Asking for money to run security or police checks
- Charging for a CV before they’ve actually written and sent it over
- Asking you to pay for training programs before joining the company
- Asking foreign workers for money for immigration lawyers or travel agent fees
In short, a legitimate company will never ask you for money before you’ve joined the business. It’s rare but possible that there may be small fees at a later date, but never part with your cash before you’ve joined the businesses and signed on the dotted line. During your job search remember, if someone asks you for money, it’s likely a scam and if you’re using CV writing services be careful to choose a legitimate provider and don’t pay for the CV before you receive it.
2. Fake job adverts on social media
Social media has made the job search easier, with professionals being able to use their profiles to connect with their favourite brands or employers online and look out for any work opportunities they may have shared. That being said, this has given fraudsters another platform in which to target unsuspecting job hunters with fake job adverts.
Some cybercriminals have gone as far as to set up entirely fake Facebook groups where fake employers share their opportunities. Unfortunately, these bogus job adverts can also be posted on legitimate Facebook pages too. And no social platform is immune, false adverts can also be found on Twitter and LinkedIn and it can be hard for these platforms to vet and eliminate all bogus postings.
But before you become disheartened and swear off social media altogether, there are some signals you can look out for. Watch out for shortened URLs on platforms like Twitter and try to verify the recruiter or employer before you click and apply. To do this, look at how many followers they have, big brands and companies will have at least 500 followers or more. Similarly, you can use platforms like LinkedIn, as well as Google searches to check out specific recruiters and see if they’re legit.
3. Receiving job offers over email
It may be the case that a legitimate company will email you over the official documents once they’ve offered you a job, but this will always be after the interview process and once an offer has been made in person or over the phone. If you find you’ve had an out of the blue job offer emailed to you, approach with caution.
Another popular scam to have appeared in recent years is that fraudsters will send messages to unsuspecting professionals saying they are the perfect candidate for a job opportunity they have. They may even say that they found your CV on a popular job board or that a friend passed on your details. The biggest giveaway is usually that they want to hire you immediately and all you need to do is send them your personal details to complete the application. They often ask for a copy of important documents such as passport or driving license to be emailed over.
This is not how a genuine employer would ever conduct themselves. If someone was genuinely interested in hiring you they may ask you to send over a CV or come in for an interview, but they wouldn’t be phishing for your sensitive information and they certainly wouldn’t suggest hiring you right away without meeting or even talking to you on the phone.
4. Premium-rate phone interviews
Phone interviews have become increasingly popular as a way of screening candidates, hiring remote workers or just cutting down on travel time. But these have also opened a space for scammers to take advantage of job hunters hoping to land an interview.
Whether they’ve approached you or you’ve applied to a fake role, as a potential candidate, scammers may ask you to call the ‘employer’ for an initial phone interview. Once you call it is common that you will be placed on hold and this can rack up your phone bill. Sadly, hackers rely on the fact that job hunters want the role and will hang on for a long time even after being put on hold, so it could take a little while before you realise what’s happened and hang up.
Remember, as a general rule, if an employer or recruiter wants to speak or interview you they will call you first, not the other way around. If for some reason they do ask you to call, do your research to make sure they are legitimate and the number is not premium rate.