Watch Out – Watch Out, There Are Scammers About

by | 15.07.21

With the rise of online job sites and professional networking sites such a LinkedIn, it’s becoming easier and easier to conduct your entire job search online. However this has also led to a rise in online job scams. Anyone using online job search websites must be careful to avoid potential scams. There are several common financial scams being used by con artists posing as legitimate employers or recruiters, in fact last week someone chose to impersonate our company in an effort to scam people. Here are some tips that will help you identify a scammer:

Too Good To Be True – Then it probably is a scam

If a job posting looks amazing question it. If something appears to be too good to be true then it probably is one big fat liar trying to draw you in so that you can be scammed. These sort of adverts can take you from happy and optimistic to frustrated and dejected in no-time. Jobs working from home, jobs overseas, jobs working for celebs, jobs in TV + radio, jobs paying over the top salaries. Question these jobs, are they real, most likely they are not. If you do decide to apply for any of these type of roles tread very carefully.

Never pay anyone a penny

Legitimate employers/or Employment Agencies will never ask you to send money to acquire a job. If you’re asked to send money for any reason, be it to register with an Agency, so an employer an instigate vetting checks or an Agency asking for payment to prepare a professional CV – don’t go there. These are definitely cons and should be ignored.

Email give away

An authentic organisation will have a corporate email address. Con artists and scammers can steal company names and corporate logos to make themselves appear legitimate. So don’t let your guard down just because you see a real logo or a recognizable company name in an email signature, always check the actual email address they’re using to be sure. Any legitimate Employment Agency, HR Person or line Manager advertising a vacancy will contact you from a corporate email and never a Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo or other free personal email address. You can also search the person’s name on LinkedIn to see if they’re a genuine employee of the company they claim to represent.

Research anything that looks fishy

The easiest way to help yourself stay clear of job scams is by doing your own research. If you see a job posting that you like the look of before you press a button and submit your CV check the professional profiles of any employment agencies advertising vacancies. Look at the social media presence of any, employer, another place to check out are review sites like Google. Consider anything odd as a red flag and don’t go there.

Bad grammar is a give away

You’ve seen this before, you see a job advert or receive an email and the grammar is just….poor. It may be overly formal and awkward, or it could be full of grammar mistakes and punctuation errors. Professional companies and employment agencies would not advertise anything that was not perfectly correct. A job advert should be easy to read and understand. Think about it this way, if a job posting is unprofessional and awkward do you really want to work for a company like that? An employer who pays so little interest in how they appear to the world?   `

Remote jobs – take special care

If you are applying for a job which is working from home and the employer doesn’t seem to have office premises take extra care as there is a good chance you will be conned. Because you won’t be meeting with the company or visiting their office you should spend extra time and effort in verifying that the Company has a legitimate online presence, View their website, view their social media profiles, search Google or Google News for their Company, use LinkedIn to research the person you’re in contact with from the Company and see if they look legitimate and have other connections from within the Company.

Interview via messaging service are odd

We are in an increasingly digital world, remote interviews are more commonplace. We ourselves here only do remote interviews, we were pushed to do this because of Covid as were many employers. However there are still some basic guidelines that should be followed. Interviews by a professional, reputable organisation are typically held by phone or video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom. Using a messaging or chat service is highly unprofessional and a good way for a scammer to hide their identity. Simply put, no legitimate company is going to ask you to interview for a job by way of a messaging service

Dodgy Application Forms

You’ve applied for a job and the “employer” has quickly acknowledged your interest and sent you an application form to fill in. There are two worries here, the quicker an employer replied to your CV the more likely it is that it is a scam, most employers of employment agencies take at least 2-3 days , the second worry is what information you are asked to provide on the application form. Information that you should not be asked for includes your date of birth, full address, your passport number or a copy of your passport, you’re driving licence number or a copy of your driving licence, your national insurance number, your marital status and number of children, your credit card or bank account details, your height or weight, your hair and eye colour or a photograph of yourself.  All of these things will never be asked for by a reputable organisation, so if you are ever asked never, ever provide. This is probably a scam.

Glamorous overseas jobs

Everyone would love a job in a sunny, wonderful place but believe me very few of these type of jobs ever reach adverting stage. People research these type of roles and employers have lists of people wanting jobs. So if you see a position advertised which is overseas be very wary. Check official records such as Company’s House or overseas registries to confirm the employer actually exists. If they do contact the organisation directly through officially listed contact details to confirm the job being advertised is genuine. Never, ever pay upfront for your travel or accommodation costs, a reputable employer would pay for these. Finally never provide a copy or the original passport even if the employer says it’s to obtain a visa for you. A genuine employer would advise you that you needed a visa and provide you with details on how you would apply for one yourself, they wouldn’t do it for you.

Beware of long, long telephone interviews

A very common trick is premium-rate phone scams. As a potential candidate you are invited to have a telephone interview. You call the number provided assuming it is genuine. You’re kept on hold for a long period of time and when you finally get through to someone a fake interview takes place. This goes on and on and on. In lots of cases they’ll last for well over an hour and they will cost you hundreds of pounds. Premium rate numbers are a sub-set of numbers that start with the prefix , 09, 070, 118, 0871, 0872 and 0873. They are usually used for services such as the weather or for competitions and are described as ‘premium rate’ because they are far from cheap to call. Calling premium rate numbers will cost you between 45p and £1.10 per minute.

By considering and being aware of all of the above you should be able to protect yourself from online job scams and apply confidently for jobs online. But be careful. According to Action Fraud, job seekers aged between 18 and 24 are the most likely to be targeted by job scams, losing around £4,000 on average. If you think you’ve been scammed you must stop communication with the scammers immediately. You must report the scam to the police immediately. If you have given the scammers money or shared your bank account details with them contact your bank immediately. You should also report the attempted scam to the job portal where you originally saw the job, they should take down the offending job immediately. The shame is job portals don’t check out advertisers perhaps if they did these type of scams would not exist.

Be careful

Angela Burton