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New Year, New Recruitment Scams: How to Spot Employment Fraud and Protect Your Personal Information

For many job seekers, receiving an employment offer can feel like a dream come true. If you’ve been on the hunt for weeks, months, or even over a year, you’re likely eager to accept a new position, sign on the dotted line, and begin the onboarding process. However, applicants in today’s volatile labor market must contend not only with competing job seekers but with a particularly nefarious, often unseen risk: identity theft.

In the second quarter of 2022 alone, Americans were scammed out of $86 million due to fake business and job opportunities, according to the Federal Trade Commission. During this period, people reported nearly 21,600 incidents of scams, with approximately a third of those resulting in a financial loss.

Employment fraud isn’t a new phenomenon, but it skyrocketed in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and scammers are constantly evolving their methods to deceive even the savviest job candidates. We’ll help you identify some common tactics as well as red flags to look out for that can help you avoid falling prey to recruitment fraud. 

Identifying employment scams 

From fake job ads to phishing scams, bad actors use a range of techniques to acquire personal information —and ultimately, money — from job seekers. Examples include: 

  • Remote job posting scams: These fake advertisements are growing in popularity as more people seek work-from-home positions. As we’ve previously mentioned, jobs that seem too good to be true often are.  
  • Job placement service scams: Scammers often impersonate representatives from actual companies, including staffing agencies and job placement firms. As a rule, legitimate recruiters will never ask you to pay a fee for their services — if a headhunter asks you to make a payment or supply personal information such as a social security number or your banking details, it is likely a scam. 
  • Social media scams: Although social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn attempt to block fake profiles and job ads, bad actors can leverage the information on your social media profiles to understand your job history, skills, and the type of job you may be applying for. Equipped with this information, scammers will then create a fake job ad or reach out to you directly to make an offer or set up an interview. For more on how to scam-proof your LinkedIn account, check out our blog 
  • Fake job emails: Email addresses can be easy for scammers to obtain, especially if you include them on your LinkedIn profile or resume. If a person claiming to be a recruiter emails you and asks for sensitive information such as your driver’s license number, social security number, or banking details, do not respond, and immediately report the incident. 

Tips for spotting red flags 

Scammers are constantly adjusting their tactics to evade detection, but by keeping an eye out for the following red flags, you can mitigate your risk of becoming a target: 

  • Scammers are increasingly using what looks like authentic company assets (logos, letterhead, branding, etc.) to phish for sensitive data. Scrutinize the fine print, including details in materials you receive, such as contact information — scams will use bogus contact information that redirects you to the scammer. 
  • Be on the alert for email addresses that contain a different extension (e.g., .info vs. .com) than the one you’ve previously used to communicate with a recruiter.  
  • Job screenings and interviews are rarely conducted by chat (and never at Judge). If someone claiming to be a recruiter or hiring manager arranges a text-based chat interview, be on your guard and never provide personal information. If the opportunity is legitimate, a virtual or in-person interview will most likely follow. If you’re offered a position after only a chat interview, this is most certainly a scam.    
  • When in doubt about contact information or a potential scam, always return to the recruiter’s company website to find the actual contact information, and call to confirm.  
  • Some scammers may even request that you send them a check, purchase equipment from the company, or pay for training or background screenings. Even if they offer to reimburse these costs, never send money or provide sensitive information.  
  • Job ads that contain several errors, typos, or an exceptionally vague job description signal a potential scam. 

Job candidates who are fielding recruiter inquiries and juggling multiple interviews are particularly vulnerable to these attacks. Whether you’re actively applying for a new role or want advice from a qualified recruiter, take the guesswork out of the hiring process and find work with The Judge Group.