It’s no laughing matter being on the impersonated end of employment scams. When your business becomes a target of fake job scams, you risk losing credibility and potentially driving away future employees.
On the other end of the spectrum, job seekers should always be vigilant against employment scams. The promise of a job can be enticing, but you should always research the company—whether or not fake—to avoid being on the losing end.
Below, we outline some of the most common types of employment scams and how to identify them. These tips will help you protect your business and workforce against employment scams.
What are Employment Scams?
Employment scams are fake job listings posted online to extort personal information or money out of the victim. Job seekers will risk losing money by paying “recruitment fees” to false recruiters. Identity theft is another risk for job seekers who submit their personal information to an employment scam. These phony job listings never result in a genuine employment offer.
Since the pandemic began, employment scams have been at an all-time high. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports, employment scam complaints have increased 27% from 2018 to 2020. Work from home online job frauds often operate by tricking victims with the promise of lucrative pay while remotely working, making the scam more effective in our present climate.
While employment scams directly affect job seekers, businesses also receive collateral damage from employment scams. This backlash happens when the swindler impersonates an employee from a legitimate organization or masquerades a well-known organization.
By impersonating an existing company with employment scams, that business could risk branding damage. The company will also have recruitment problems as potential candidates may associate the business with employment scams.
Common Types of Employment Scams
Knowing that employment scams exist is the first step to ensuring that job seekers and organizations aren’t victimized. The next step is recognizing the common types of employment scams out there.
While some employment scams can be obvious, others are more inconspicuous and require job seekers and organizations to perform their due diligence. It’s essential to have a sharp eye and always follow the saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The FBI reports that as of March 5, 2021, over 2,349 victims had already reported $5 million in losses nationwide due to employment scams. Let us not add to that statistic.
Fake Job Postings on Career Boards
Although uncommon, it is possible to find the occasional fake job listing on career boards such as Indeed and CareerBuilder. The most important thing is identifying a false job listing from a genuine one. Some red flags include:
- An unusually high salary
- Vague job descriptions
- Missing contact information for the employer
- The “company” requesting your personal information even before you’re hired
Other notable red flags include the recruiter contacting you even though you didn’t apply for a job or the “company” requesting payment from you. Remember that no legitimate company would ever ask you to pay for a job.
You may be familiar with phishing emails, but they come in many forms, like text messages and phone calls. By definition, a phishing attack is when someone sends a message designed to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or installing malware into their system.
How does phishing relate to employment scams? Scammers will send job seekers fraudulent emails or text messages containing links, attack devices with malware, and potentially steal sensitive information.
These emails and text messages are often disguised as job offers from actual companies or look like they come from legitimate businesses. It’s up to job seekers to be wary of such emails and text messages.
Research these businesses by checking their official job listing channels. If the email or text message comes to an individual before they have applied, it’s likely an employment scam.
Using Fake URLs
Another way that cyber attackers try to lure job seekers with employment scams is by using a fake URL. Scammers will post a job listing online that usually checks all the boxes of vague job descriptions, fast employment processing, and missing contact info. These job listings are generally accompanied by a URL that looks almost like it’s from an existing organization.
However, upon closer inspection, the URL typically has a minimal error, like a slight misspelling of the actual organization’s URL. The scammers will also take things a step further by replicating the organization’s website to look almost like the original.
This employment scam is perhaps one of the most difficult for job seekers to crack. Scammers will moonlight as an employee of an organization on their LinkedIn account while offering fake jobs to potential candidates. What makes this difficult to identify is the scammer also has connections with the actual employees of the organization, making them look like authentic employees.
The way to curb this employment scam tactic lies within your organization. Once you have been made aware that people are impersonating your employees on LinkedIn, communicate with your staff internally and request that they report these individuals. It’s a good practice to review your employee list on LinkedIn regularly. From there, you can submit a request to LinkedIn to either report inaccurate information or a fake profile.
Unsolicited Job Offers
Your employees may receive an email or text message offering them a job. The problem is, they didn’t apply for that position. These are unsolicited job offers, which is another form of an employment scam.
Typically, unsolicited job offers will offer immediate employment without someone asking, accompanied by unusually lucrative pay. The fake job offer email can be flashy, offering benefits that seem too good to be true. It usually is, making this employment scam tactic an easy one to identify.
Unsolicited job offers are typically sent via emails and text messages. However, it’s also common for people to receive them via Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn messages.
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How to Identify a Fake Job Listing
Now that you’re familiar with the common types of employment scams out there, we will talk about how to identify fake job offers. Several standard methods are apparent at first glance. However, there are also stealthier ways scammers can trick victims.
There are telltale signs of fake job postings if you know how to spot them. These tactics can include creating a sense of urgency or an offer that sounds too good to be true. Below, we provide an overview of how job seekers and employers can identify a fake job listing.
Sense of Urgency
Most job seekers would love for a company to process their employment as soon as possible. However, it’s a red flag when a “recruiter” pushes someone into signing a contract too quickly. Typically, employment scams that rush the signing process leave no room for questions about the job role.
It’s crucial for individuals to listen to their instincts and conduct research on the company before signing anything.
Obvious Mistakes and Errors in Job Listing
An obvious identifier of fake job listings is the lack of professionalism in the posts. You’ll often find:
- Pronounced grammatical and spelling errors in the listing
- Too many exclamation marks to emphasize the urgency
- An incredible amount of capitalized words
These job listings also tend to look haphazard in appearance, adding to the lack of professionalism. Paying close attention to the company name or official website URL will usually allow you to spot some tiny mistakes.
It Sounds Too Good to Be True
Does that listed job offer sound too good to be true? It probably is. One way to identify a fake job listing is how suspiciously enticing its offer is. Some examples include promising an exorbitant salary with minimal work involved and using “quick money” or “unlimited earning potential”.
There are cases where job seekers need work and ignore the red flags of an enticing job offer. However, with employment scams becoming increasingly common, applicants need to stay vigilant to avoid becoming a victim and losing money in the process.
Vague Job Descriptions
Legitimate job listings will include detailed job descriptions explaining the role. If you struggle to understand the position you’re applying for, it’s likely because the scammers are purposefully vague.
Examples of vague job descriptions include:
- “Do you want to earn more money while working from home? No experience needed! Apply now!!”
- “Easy job with excellent pay and quick career progression! Apply with us NOW!”
- “Help people while earning money. Flexible working hours. You set your own time!”
You’ll notice these examples do not provide specific indicators of job roles. Furthermore, they also use fake job listing tactics: creating a sense of urgency, sounding unprofessional, and appearing too good to be true.
Uses Free Email Domain
Professional and legitimate recruiters will send you emails from their company’s domain. It’s a standard procedure. Hence, it should be a warning sign when receiving recruitment or employment offer emails from free email domains such as Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL.
For example, at our organization, we send emails from the domain firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see, our company name is the domain from which the email is coming.
Like burner phones, just about anyone can create an email address, making it easier to conduct employment scams. Job seekers need to disregard emails from @.com or double-check with someone from the organization to confirm if such a person exists.
Asks for Payment
A significant warning sign of employment scams is when they ask you for a payment or processing fee to join the company. A legitimate job offer will never require candidates to pay any money beforehand.
However, there have also been other conniving ways that scammers use to extort money out of potential job candidates. Some may trick the candidate into paying upfront for shipping or handling fees for company products. Others may provide false checks on the “company’s” behalf, which the employee will need to pay for later on when the bank discovers it is a fraud.
Requires Personal Information
As a precautionary measure, job seekers should never provide employers—whether or not legitimate—with personal information before their employment is confirmed. Most professional organizations and businesses will never ask you for your personal details such as banking information, Social Security number, taxes, and other relevant information for HR purposes.
Employment scammers tend to do this as a means of stealing your personal data for identity theft or selling it on the dark web. In 2021, stolen credit card and banking data are worth $250 at most per person on the dark web.
How to Protect Your Business Against Employment Scams
Job seekers need to be wary as targets of employment scams. However, businesses can also suffer as a result of being impersonated by scammers. In the long run, companies may be associated with scammers, leading to a tainted brand image.
Potential candidates would not want to apply for jobs at the affected businesses for fear of being scammed, although the company itself played no part in the scam. A lack of desirable candidates applying for employment at the impacted organizations would also lead to a lack of quality staff entering the company.
Because of this, employers will also need to play their part in dispelling employment scams. Here are some steps that organizations can take in protecting their business and future employees against employment scams. Here’s what employers can do about fake job scams to protect their businesses and employees:
Provide Employees with Regular Training
Your organization should provide your employees with regular training on social media to spot scammers or scammers pretending to be employees. This training typically goes hand in hand with internal cybersecurity training too.
In the same vein, organizations need to have a standard operating procedure in place in case of an incident. Companies should equip employees with what to do whenever they find out that a scammer impersonated their organization. They should also release an internal memo immediately once known that the business is a victim of employment scams. This way, employees can be extra vigilant.
Report Scammers to Relevant Agencies
One of your company’s standard operating procedures should be to immediately file a report to relevant agencies in case of an employment scam incident. Time is of the essence in cases like these, so you can stop the problem from escalating.
The agencies that you and your employees can report employment scams to are:
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Federal Trade Commission
- Google’s Report Phishing Page
These agencies provide fraud information like how to report fake recruiters. Job seekers should also report an employment scam impersonating an existing business to that company’s official website.
Regularly Update Social Media
Wield social media as a tool to fight against employment scams. Companies should publish any news of scams involving the impersonation of their business on their social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—to warn potential candidates.
These social media posts can also direct potential candidates to the company’s official website or portal for submitting job applications. This way, both the job seeker and the company will benefit from having authentic recruitment channels in a safe environment.
Provide Official Resources
Make your social media work hand in hand with your company to provide an official resource of how interested candidates should apply for a job. Your company should then offer a solution directing candidates towards the right portal to apply for a job in your company. The solution can be a guide or an official statement addressing the employment scam.
The preferred method is usually the official website, as it is reliable, shows your company’s professionalism, and your IT department will gatekeep the candidates’ information.
Partner With a Recruitment Software Provider
If your organization utilizes software to automate the recruitment process, you must partner with a reputable provider. Research the recruitment solution provider you plan to use and ensure that their technology is cloud-based and secure. The software must provide tools that align with your organization’s values and methods of recruitment.
Using reputable recruitment software will ensure you’re following ethical guidelines for hiring employees. The technology should be secure and only accessible to employees involved in your company’s hiring process. Recruitment technology will also keep candidates’ personal information safe from employment scammers.
Make Your Recruiting Process Transparent
It’s also equally crucial for your organization to align the recruiting process, especially if recruitment companies and multiple branches are involved. When your business gets too large, it can be challenging—but not impossible—to continue achieving transparency across all levels.
It is imperative during this time to make your recruiting process transparent so that everyone is on the same page. Ensure everyone follows the same steps, using business emails, never asking for upfront processing payment, and not pressuring for personal information before the hiring is confirmed.
With the recruiting process remaining transparent, future employees will also have more confidence in the professionalism of your company. This confidence will boost your company’s brand image as a reputable one, increasing the chances for quality candidates to apply for a job at your organization.
How to Optimize the Recruiting and Hiring Process
It’s essential to take steps to protect your recruitment process from potential employment scams. One excellent way to safeguard your company’s brand reputation is by using employee recruiting and onboarding software like APS Hire.
With detailed job descriptions, text messaging, and integrated calendar scheduling for interviews, you can communicate with applicants within the APS Hire solution. You’ll receive quality, legitimate applicants for your job openings. Furthermore, candidates can rest assured they are indeed communicating with your company and that your job offers are genuine.
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