Finding a job is never easy, and scammers know they can target desperate job seekers by posing as legitimate employers. Criminals use the same channels that legitimate companies use, such as online job boards, newspaper ads, and social media. Recruitment scammers use stolen logos and other content from real companies to create fake websites and emails, which makes phony job offers challenging to spot.
Everyone's a Target
When it comes to recruiting scams, everyone becomes both a target and a victim. Targeted businesses might suffer a PR nightmare if they get embroiled in a job scam even if they had nothing to do with it. It's the job seekers that suffer the most, though, because they lose money and valuable time. Large corporations are the favorite target for many reasons:
- Large corporations are well-known and have name recognition. Who wouldn't want to work at Google, Nike, or Netflix?
- Big businesses offer plenty of corporate logos and other online content to draw from (for creating fake websites and email).
- An offer from a large organization provides shock value and plays on the ego, especially if the fake job offer pays big money.
However, even small businesses can be used as tools for a job scam. Scammers have no qualms about using any organization they find on job boards as long as these seem to be appealing to boost their operations. For instance, criminals can play on the fact that small businesses are a tight-knit group that treats everyone like family.
How a Job Scam Works
Scammers impersonate legitimate businesses and post fake job offers online on job boards, social media, and newspaper ads. The bogus position is usually generic, offering above-market salaries, flexible hours, and lucrative benefits (travel, allowances) - a dream job for many people. Once a job seeker responds to any of these channels, the criminals will either initiate a phone call pretending to be the employer or send an email using a spoofed domain.
Scammers don't bother asking about relevant skills, or they only pretend to be during the call because they want to end the call quickly so they can press the job seeker to pay a processing fee before the process can continue. Job scams aim to steal money, financial information, and personal details that can be sold or used for identity theft.
Identify theft statistics don't lie: the authorities have seen a dramatic increase from 19.8% for 2017 - 2018 to a staggering 46.4% for 2018 - 2019. In 2019 alone, there were 650,572 cases of identity theft, according to the FTC, amounting to 20.33% of the total reported fraud cases for the year.
Everyone should be extra vigilant to safeguard against identity theft - both employers and job seekers alike - so protecting and monitoring your identity falls on you. Proper cybersecurity hygiene and identity theft-specific tools can help mitigate the risks of this type of fraud.
Signs of a Recruiting Scam
Share the information below to help educate job seekers visiting your website about job scams.
Job seekers need to provide their banking information and credit card details.
Fake employers ask applicants to provide their bank account information, personal details, and credit card for "payroll" purposes and on-boarding. Job seekers should never share sensitive information easily over the phone or email without doing their due diligence on the company hiring them.
Job applicants need to pay to get the job.
Scammers will try to lure job seekers by telling them they have a job waiting if they pay a fee for processing, travel expenses, certification, training materials, or work from home supplies. Legitimate employers and employment companies will never ask you to pay any fees for a potential job.
The job ad is for "previously undisclosed federal government positions."
Details regarding the available federal jobs are always free and announced to the public via usajobs.gov. Any job posting that says otherwise is a scam.
While getting scammed is technically not the fault of any business, running after these fake websites, recruitment ads, and social media pages are, and organizations should actively pursue shutting them down.
It also helps the company image to pay it forward by informing job seekers about these scams and how to take steps in avoiding them by creating a one-page information campaign on their website.
About the Author: Daniel William is Content Director and a Cyber Security Director at IDStrong. His great passion is to maintain the safety of the organization's online systems and networks. He knows that both individuals and businesses face the constant challenge of cyber threats. Identifying and preventing these attacks is a priority for Daniel.