The variety and severity of online scams is growing apace, and fake online job advertising is one of the many methods that fraudsters are using to extort personal information or money from unsuspecting consumers.
“The methods that online fraudsters use are constantly changing, and job seekers must remain vigilant to ensure they don’t get caught out by fake online job ads,” warns Sam Holt, director of Norwich accountancy job specialists, Big Sky Additions.
Research has identified that younger job seekers are at particular risk – in 2016 over 300,000 students were targeted by fake online job ads, with over half handing over cash without realising they had been scammed. “Its a competitive job market for younger people, with many students desperate to support themselves while studying or break into their first job after graduating so perhaps this puts them in a more vulnerable position, but in reality job seekers of any age risk being caught out by these sophisticated scams,” adds Sam, who recruits for full time and part time accountancy jobs in Norfolk.
What are the main scams I should look out for?
Scammers are becoming extremely clever, with unscrupulous fraudsters making it really difficult to know what’s genuine or fake.
“Opportunists tailor scams to your background, before targeting you with convincing lies, often attempting to collect personal information and eventually con you out of money,” explains Sam.
3 types of online recruitment scams
- Fake job adverts are listed to entice people to apply, so fraudsters can gain personal information, including national insurance details, bank details, date of birth and address, leading to identity theft.
- Advance fee scams are very common. Fraudsters ask for money up front for things like CV writing, admin charges, or carrying out background security checks such as Data and Barring Service (DBS) clearance.
- Premium rate phone interview scams are a growing concern. Scammers send texts or missed call messages to victims asking them to call premium rate numbers for an initial phone interview. People are put on hold for a long period of time, making the call last up to an hour and bills can quickly total hundreds of pounds.
How to spot a fake job advert
- The obvious giveaway is poor spelling or grammar in job ads, and a generally substandard look.
- Be wary if a personal email address (such as email@example.com) is used for correspondence.
- Scammers will also use fake company domain names, so always check out the company thoroughly online and offline. Drive by the postal address if possible, to check its genuine.
- Most job scams are email-based, and rarely involve meeting recruiters face-to-face. One of the best ways to protect yourself from online job fraud is to insist on a face to face meeting, or at least a video call interview to ensure the company and the recruiter is genuine.
- If you haven’t knowingly registered with a recruitment agency, and receive personalised job offers, it’s probably a scam.
- Fraudsters are utilising social media sites, such as Linkedin, to clone themselves as headhunters or recruitment agencies. They access personal profiles and tailor their approach – so beware of unexpected job offers through this route.
“Its so easy to get swept away with these online scams, when you’re super keen to find a new job,” warns Sam. “My best advice would be to remain vigilant and if something looks like its too good to be true then it probably is.”