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  • Writer's pictureLindi Engelbrecht

Job Scams Are on the Rise—Here’s How to Spot and Avoid them

Red flags that may be a sign of a job search scam

The number of job seekers who search online for employment opportunities has risen. Unfortunately, with this trend comes the opportunity for criminals to exploit job seekers with fake job offers as a way to extract personal information and bank details.

No interviews! Amazing paycheck! Make your own hours!

Sometimes jobs sound too good to be true. In most cases, they are. They may even be illegal.

Red flags that may be a sign of a scam include any job that requires a new employee to pay them first, asks for their credit card or bank account information, or promises access to jobs that are not made public. Make sure that you do some research on a company before you sign up to work with them. If they don’t have much of a presence online, you should be suspicious.

Why have job scams been so pronounced recently? With the internet now a primary job-search tool, the digital distance between employer and a would-be employee has left a space where scam artists can intercept good-faith searchers. While it’s implausible to avoid the internet in your job search, if you aren’t cautious, you can easily become some swindler’s next mark. We identified common job scams and have some tips on how you can avoid them.

Common job scams

There are two things criminals might try and steal from you when you are looking for a job – your money or your personal details such as your ID number or bank account details

Job scams to steal your money

In these scams, criminals pose as employers or recruiters and ask for money in return for some sort of service, for example:

  • A fee to put you forward for a job, or as a preferred candidate

  • Money to cover training costs, telling you the training is essential if you want the job

  • A fee so they can conduct a credit check

  • Money to cover accommodation costs, uniforms or other items before you get an employment contract

How do you identify these scams?

This one is easy – no legitimate recruiter or employer will ask you for money for any purpose before you are employed. The minute someone asks you for money, walk away! Report them to the platform or portal where their advert was placed.

If you do need to stay over for a job interview either pay your own costs directly or ask the company to pay these upfront and confirm any booking before you travel.

Job scams to obtain your personal details

The purpose of these job scams is also to get money, but here the criminals use your personal details to steal from you or to set up other scams. For example, they might use your personal data to create fake social media profiles that can be used to scam other people. Examples include:

  • Using your ID number and personal details to open accounts in your name and then buying goods and services on credit, leaving you with the debt

  • Obtaining your bank account and other details and withdrawing money from your account

  • Using your fake social media profile to get your family and friends to donate to a good cause or invest in a scheme, in reality the request comes from criminals and any money donated or invested goes directly to their account

How do you identify these scams?

Although these are harder to identify than scams where people ask you for money, there are a few warning signs:

  • Requests for personal details such as your ID number or your address before an interview

  • Requests for your bank account details or other financial information

Scammers work hard to appear legitimate, but like any forgery, there are telltale signs to look for.

Here are 3 not so common scams to look out for when searching for a job:

You’re asked to travel to a location that’s not the company's office

If you’re told to come to an interview at a place that’s either a residential building or not that organisation’s office, it might be a scam. Most organisations are housed in commercial buildings either on their own or with other businesses.

Also look out for different job listings that have a similar address linked to them – these could be a front for human trafficking.

You receive an email from a non-business address

So, you’ve applied for a position at Drum magazine, however you receive correspondence from a Gmail account. That is a scam – report it and move it to a spam folder immediately.

The job description is vague or unprofessional

Scammers try to make their emails sound believable by listing job requirements. Usually these are very vague so almost anyone can apply. Most legitimate job listings have more specific and detailed job descriptions and an extensive list of qualifications. A fake job listing also often has poor spelling and grammar or is inconsistent.

The hiring manager contacts you via text only.

A legitimate job opportunity will come through via email as opposed to text. If it does come via text, It usually means that someone got your data, including your phone number, from someplace. Signs that it’s not legitimate include the text coming from an unknown number and the way the hiring manager addresses you. For instance, do they call you William but you typically go by Bill? Does the message sound oddly formal? Also, if you don’t have any recollection of applying to the entity they claim to represent or you have a funny feeling about it, you’re probably right.

All scams prey on vulnerabilities, and employment scam is no different. The scammers are replying on people being so desperate for a job that they don’t question when they are asked to supply details. You don’t have to be paranoid when looking for work, though. Just follow the advice given and keep a cool head. Although the internet makes it easier for scams to exist, it also makes it easy for you to double-check facts. Use this against the scammers and you can be assured of a safe job seeking experience.

What Should You Do if You Spot—or Have Already Fallen for—a Job Scam?

If you suspect you’re dealing with a job scam, no matter how far in you’ve gotten, follow these tips:

  • Stop what you’re doing. Halt any correspondence.

  • Notify your bank

  • Report it. When you report the incident, include the name of the company and person you communicated with and the email address and web domain they were using. If you have any screenshots of the website or your communications, send those as well.

  • Contact the job board if that’s where you encountered the scam. Most sites have a mechanism for reporting these types of issues.

Job scams are on the rise. The best way to protect yourself is to be cautious when applying for jobs online—especially ones that sound too good to be true.

At DIGGER, we take your protection seriously and are continuously improving job seeker safety. Part of that effort includes using proprietary software to review posts in an attempt to deny access to anyone who fails to pass our screenings. But no system is perfect, which is why we share articles like this one, as well as other posts with additional tips on avoiding job scams.

If you happen to come across something that seems suspicious, please email our dedicated Trust and Safety Team so we can have a look and take appropriate action. Our customer service representatives are available seven days a week to investigate and weed out anything that doesn’t seem right.

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Be safe out there and good luck with the search!


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