Over the last several months, many people have found themselves job hunting online. With the rise in COVID-19 cases in the spring and businesses temporarily shut down, the unemployment rate was the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, leaving a lot of people scrambling to find stable work.
For a lot of people, this was the first time navigating online job boards. Websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Zip Recruiter help connect businesses looking to fill positions and available applicants.
However, this is the perfect playground for scammers. Fraudsters will post fake job offerings and trick people, who are frantically looking for a job, into giving them personal information that can be used fraudulently. And while using these websites to scam people in not something new, with the uptick in job searches, spotting these types of scams can be difficult.
We know how confusing navigating these websites can be, so we want to make sure you keep your eyes peeled if you or someone you know is searching for a job. Here are some things to look out for when it comes to searching for jobs online, so that your information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Requesting Personally Identifying Information
There are recent reports of fraudsters posing as recruiters and using these job-listing websites as a way to retrieve personal information from those looking for a job. These scammers tend to create fake job postings, making them appear to be from a reputable company, and then using this as a way to get personally identifying information.
These scammers will typically take applicants through an email interview, where applicants answer questions via email instead of a formal interview (either in-person or video chat). Once you have accepted a fake job offer, these fraudsters will request that you send copies of identifying information, such as your driver's license and passport. However, once they have this information, they are never heard from again, and can use your information to open up accounts, take out loans, and commit other fraudulent behavior.
However, one way you can protect yourself from this scam is to keep an eye on the email domain that you receive recruitment emails from. Legitimate recruiters will email applicants from a domain registered to the business, whereas scammers tend to use Gmail or Yahoo accounts that look similar to the company’s email address.
Paying to Get a Job
Another way to know if the job that you recently accepted is a scam is if they require you to pay in order to get the job. Many scammers will charge an “up-front fee” and make you send them money via wire, check or gift card. While these scammers may sound convincing, never send payment to a recruiter when applying for or accepting a job offer. This type of scam is geared towards people who are desperate for a job right now. If you do receive an offer from a company and they ask you to pay an upfront fee of any kind, the job posting is not legitimate and should be reported.
Additionally, something else to be on the lookout for is check scams. Scammers have been known to send a check to an applicant with instructions to cash the check, purchase office supplies for their office, and then send back the remainder of the money. This is especially relevant right now, as many companies are offering employees to work from home. However, this is a clear sign that you are being scammed, as the check will bounce and you will be left with a charge from your financial institution.
What to Do if You Fall Victim to a Job Offer Scam
So, we know what to lookout for, but what do you do if you have already fallen victim to one of these scams? Here are some action steps for you if you or someone you know was recently scammed.
- Report the scam to the job board. Whether it was a reputable company or one you might not be too familiar with, make sure to report them immediately.
- Freeze your credit report, especially if you gave the recruiter personally identifying information that could be used to open up credit cards in your name.
- File a report with the FTC. One of the best things you can do for you and your community is to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. From here, you will be given easy steps on how to report the fraudulent behavior and what your next steps should be.
We want to make sure your information doesn’t end up in the hands of a fraudster, so stay vigilant about who you give your information out to. If you want to learn more about how Blackhawk Bank can help you, contact us today!
VP Physical & Information Security