job search scams

The covid pandemic has hit many aspects of our lives including our workplace. A lot of people have lost their jobs, their companies, and their livelihoods. But after many lockdowns, the economy has improved and the job market is once again flooded with offers of employment. Unfortunately, scammers have also found a way to prey on those who look for a job. Fake job offers have been a problem for a long time, but technology has made it easier and more lucrative for fraudsters. They know that some job seekers are desperate to make money, and they will lure their potential victims with promising and high-paid job offers. For some a chance for a better future, for others becomes a chance for an easy scam. Job search scam tactics may vary, but they all have one goal: to steal your personal information.

What Is A Job Scam?

A job scam occurs when someone posts false job advertisements to steal personal information, money, bank account, or credit card details from potential candidates.  Some may also promise to help with the job search. Obviously for a fee, but after the scammers get their money, they cease all contact. A lot of people are so desperate for a new job that they continue with an application even if they suspect that the job offer may not be legitimate.

According to the FBI, over 16 thousand people reported being victims of employment scams in 2020, with losses totaling more than $59 million. The average reported loss was nearly $3,000 per victim, in addition to the damage to the victims’ credit scores.

How scammers work?

So what does the process actually look like? An imposter posing as a recruiter may post a job offer or even contact the potential victim via email or Linkedin. But more commonly they will post their offers on sites that are less popular or those that offer temporary or less regular jobs. Scammers post a job offer that tempts the potential victims with high earnings, frequent bonuses, light and well-paid work that does not require any experience or special skills. The desperate victim, lured with the prospect of easy money, sends their application, and soon after they receive information that they passed the first stage of recrutation and to go to the next stage they need to provide more information. They will ask for information that you do give to your employer, but only after signing the contract. That information may be the date of birth, address, or Social Security number. They can be used to open bank accounts, take out loans or credit cards in the victim’s name. Furthermore, when looking for a job, you can come across offers in which alleged employers ask you to send a scan of your ID card and proof of address to complete the recruitment process. Don’t do this for any reason. Remember that the employer may require more information about you, but never during the recruitment process.

During the pandemic, work-from-home scams have been on the rise. They offer lucrative work possibilities from the comfort of your own home. But usually, those kinds of offers end up being a front for personal information exploitation, like filling out surveys, or even money laundering. The “employer” doesn’t even conduct an interview with the candidate and all of the contacts between two parties are written, so there are no face-to-face meetings. 

Many scammers end up not paying the agreed amount and break all contact. They usually opt for the PayPal payment option or direct deposit, when the money is not sent and the victim starts to suspect and check the information that they were provided with it turns out that they were fake. They do however have the personal information of their ‘employees’ and can take a loan or a credit card in their name. 

Common Job Search Scams

One way to stay safe is to know how to differentiate legitimate work opportunities from fake ones. Some of the offers keep popping up and it’s worth knowing which job offers are scams.

Those kinds of offers may seem legitimate and there are a lot of real offers, but the ones that you should look out for are the ones that offer high pay for a job that does not require a lot of skills. 

The job involves unpacking and repacking the goods and sending them to the given address. What the employee might not be aware of is that the goods are usually stolen and they are a part of criminal activity.

If a company requires the employee to pay for the materials or needs an enrollment fee it is a scam. They do not plan to buy the finished product.

Many of those kinds of offers are a scam that requires the employee to go through paid training or certification. Any job in which the employee needs to pay for anything is a scam.

How To Spot A Job Scam

Before answering any job advertisements do a background check on the company. Make sure that it is a legitimate place of work, check if it has a website, social media presence or if it has been mentioned in any industry materials. You can also check if it has any opinions of its customers or even employees. If you have any suspicions regarding the company’s legitimacy, call them, but first check if the number that you have is also the contact number on their website. Sometimes scammers use the name of the real company but give false contact information. Limit the information you put on your resume, don’t share your address or your full date of birth. If you’ve found a fake job post and recognize it as such, report it. Look out for unclear job descriptions or requirements, if the offer seems too good to be true it usually means that it is. Stay vigilant, because you might end up as a victim of identity theft. 

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