As we move more of our lives online, fraudsters and scammers are finding new ways to target us. Most people will use the internet at some point during their job search, whether to search for an employer’s career website, browse a job board or connect through a professional social networking website. Because of this there has been a rise in the number of recruitment scams and employment fraud online. Ofcom found that 30% of UK adults online have encountered some form of employment scam while using the internet. One in five of those targeted lose money to the scammers, an average of £2,300.
During your job search it’s important to stay informed and vigilant about recruitment scams to protect your personal data and avoid disappointment.
Common Recruitment Scams To Watch Out For
There are several different ways a scammer might target you while posing as a potential employer, recruiter, or advertisement. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how a scammer is trying to target you and what their aims are, but here are some common recruitment scams to be aware of:
• Fake Job Postings
Job boards and websites like LinkedIn aren’t immune from scammers. Because the barrier to entry is often low, scammers post counterfeit job adverts, hoping that the legitimate website will make you less suspicious. Scammers might hope to commit identity theft by stealing your personal data or will ask you to send them an advance fee to secure a role or equipment before disappearing with your money.
This can be as simple as asking you to make a bank transfer, but some scams may send you a fraudulent cheque to make the purchase. You’ll be asked to transfer the money to a company or person that’s in on the scam. However, the cheque will then bounce, leaving you out of pocket
• Impersonation Scams
In a world where you can instantly send a message to big corporations through social media, we’ve gotten used to a more informal level of communication with brands and companies. Phishing scams try to exploit this by creating emails, websites and even SMS or WhatsApp messages pretending to come directly from a potential employer or recruiter.
These messages can be very convincing and may attempt to install malware or convince you to share personal information. Be careful of opening any attachments that could contain malicious software or following links contained in messages. If in doubt, independently navigate to the company website to double check the details. But be aware, these schemes can be elaborate and sometimes involve fake companies and websites.
• Pyramid Schemes
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) businesses often look like legitimate organisations. They’ll have websites, social media and operate just like a regular business. But they are in fact pyramid schemes. They recruit individuals to sell products for them as independent workers. You’ll usually have to pay a joining fee and buy stock from the company, and you’ll be promised a guaranteed income – but only if you make the sales needed. You’ll also be promised more money for everyone you recruit.
Most members will never be able to make the sales they need to earn a living or even recruit enough people to reach the bonuses. These companies make their money from the joining fees. They prey on people looking for second sources of income and sell a dream of ‘being your own boss.’ For more information on MLMs and how they work visit Action Fraud.
Spotting Red Flags: How to Recognise Scam Attempts
The most important thing to remember when evaluating a potential scam is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But unrealistic salaries and benefits, or that white whale employer you’ve always dreamed of working for aren’t the only red flags to look out for. You should also consider:
• Unprofessional Communication
Grammar and spelling errors as well as other signs of unprofessional communication can be a good indicator that a post or message is a scam. Ask yourself if this is how you would expect an employer to speak to you?
• Lack of Company Information
If a business has no online presence or there is a lack of information available such as a business address or telephone number that can be a sign a company is fake. Large international companies will almost always have an office or mailing address in the UK if they are hiring here. For small businesses you might want to check Companies House.
• Pressure Tactics
Messages designed to pressure or rush you into making decisions should be avoided.
• Payment Requests
A common feature of employment and recruitment scams is the need for you to provide money for equipment, supplies or even an interview. A legitimate employer will never ask you to pay to access a job opportunity.
Good Practices For Safe Job Searching
Increase your chances of staying safe while job hunting by:
- Using trusted job portals or recruiters – using trustworthy careers websites and developing relationships with established recruiters is not only safer but can help speed up your job search and match you with roles that meet your needs and expectations
- Researching and verifying employers – take time to research a company before applying or sharing any personal information with them
- Growing your personal brand – by building a strong online presence you are more likely to attract interest from legitimate employers and recruiters
- Networking safely – always be cautious while networking with strangers online
Protecting Your Personal Data
Safeguarding your personal data is always important, to help secure your data during the job application process, only share essential information required for the application through secure communication methods. To add an extra layer of security, ensure your accounts are protected with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) where possible. You can also adjust any privacy settings on social media and online platforms to limit the information available to strangers.
Both the government and employers are exploring the use of digital identity verification methods to improve trust and security in the recruitment process. Understanding these security practices will help you be ready for the future of digital identity.
How To Take Action & Report Scams
If you’ve found a scam job posting, you can report it to the portal or jobs board where it was posted. You might also consider sharing your experiences on online forums and communities to warn others.
Being mindful of the information you share and the platforms you trust can safeguard you from scams and protect your digital identity. When navigating the job market, it can be beneficial to connect with reputable recruiters like Morgan Law. Choosing an established partner not only makes for a safer, smoother job-hunting experience but gives you access to support and advice from industry experts you can help you land your dream role in the public or not-for-profit sectors.
Looking for public sector roles that suit your skills?
If you are ready to find public sector roles where you can shine, Morgan Law can help. Our experienced consultants specialise in connecting talented candidates like you with some of the most outstanding public sector organisations around. Navigate the modern hiring process with Morgan Law.
To discuss your next steps contact us today.