What is a job scam?
In simple terms, it’s fake online job advertising, targeting job seekers to steal personal information or money. However, even for sophisticated job seekers, it can be hard to tell the difference between a scam and a genuine offer. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs and protect yourself during your search.
Nearly a decade ago, it happened to me as well. I applied for a UK-based job advertised on the Dubai website. Shortly after submitting my application, I received a long questionnaire to be filled. There was a sense of urgency, I was required to do it within 2 days. To my big surprise, after sending it back I received a job offer! There were no phone calls, no video conference, no interaction with a human being. I was offered an incredibly high salary in comparison to what the market offered at that time. Also, I had been informed that I needed to pay for a work permit. When I challenged the “company representatives”, none got back to me. I notified respective authorities and happily landed a “real job” a couple of months later.
This is how job frauds work, they prey on hope. They use the advantage of people who either struggle to find a job or simply became interested in a particular position or location. Nowadays criminals are even more sophisticated. They even set up fake LinkedIn accounts and conduct video calls with potential victims. I recently heard a sad story about a candidate applying for a job in Dubai. He got scammed. After he paid for his visa, the company disappeared from the Internet. The “recruiters” accounts were also deleted.
Some other warning signs may indicate fraud
There are several things you need to watch out for. Fraudulent recruitment activities often include the following:
- Vague job description
- Requesting personal information such as passport and bank account details at an early stage of the process
- Sending emails from free web-based email accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or Live.com
- Hiding the caller ID during phone conversations
- Very quick and easy recruitment process e.g. there is only one quick phone conversation or you are to complete some online tasks
- Issuing offers of employment in international locations on non-local conditions
- Using poorly formatted documentation, spelling mistakes
- Requiring money from applicants (e.g. for ‘visa fees’, taxes, a percentage of travel expenses)
- Unrealistic compensation-and benefits packages
How to protect yourself:
Try to avoid sharing too many personal details in your application form
While you will want to sell yourself and impress future employers/recruiters, providing too much personal information could leave you vulnerable to scams. Too much personal information could lead to identity theft, where fraudsters can obtain your details, steal your identity and spend your money, take out loans or buy goods in your name.
Remember your CV should be a summary of why you’re the best candidate for that job. In most cases you should not be asked to include:
- your date of birth
- your full address
- passport number
- driving license number
- National Insurance number
- marital status and number of children
- credit card or bank account numbers
- weight and height
- hair and eye color
Check out the company thoroughly
Make sure the organization offering you the job exists. It’s always good to check their website and social media channels. Finding information does not guarantee the company is legit, but if you can’t find anything, you can bet it’s a scam. If you have doubts, it is advisable to verify if the organization is officially registered. Here are some examples how to do it:
- Poland https://prod.ceidg.gov.pl/ceidg/ceidg.public.ui/Search.aspx https://ekrs.ms.gov.pl/web/wyszukiwarka-krs/strona-glowna
Check the visa application process
If you’re in discussion about a job abroad, ask the embassy representing the country where you believe you will be working how to obtain a visa and how much it costs. Check that the answers the potential employer gives you are the same – if they’re not, it’s a strong indication of fraud.
Trust your intuition.
Scammers nowadays are very clever. If you have doubts, ask questions and pay close attention to the answers. Slow the process down and don’t be pressured into making a commitment or giving out personal information.
What to do if you already fall, a victim to a recruitment scam:
If you think you are a victim of employment fraud you should stop all communication with the ‘company’. Then, contact and report the details to the appropriate authorities. Some examples of the reporting websites for cybercrime can be found here:
- European countries https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
- Poland https://incydent.cert.pl/
- United States https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx
- Norway https://www.politi.no/rad/datakriminalitet/
- Malaysia http://www.cybersecurity.my/en/index.html
- Australia https://www.acorn.gov.au/
Happy and safe job search!