Online Job Scams on the Rise
Job seeking has changed significantly over the last 20 years. Most people used to consult a newspaper when looking for a new job. But nowadays, almost all of our employment seeking begins online, with sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and CareerBuilder posting thousands of job listings online daily.
When you’re anxious to find a position and earn an income, it can be easy to gloss over the details of a job posting, and only see the promise of steady pay. Unfortunately, scammers are well aware of people’s desire for financial security, and can easily manipulate many of us into doing work that isn’t entirely above board.
In fact, CBS reports that for every one legitimate job available, there are about 60 scam jobs being offered. And it’s not just naïve or inexperienced job seekers being duped. With unemployment rates increasing globally, many of us – even well-educated and skilled laborers – are forced to take on jobs we may not have previously considered.
What Kind of Scams?
The promise of quick and easy work that yields a high income is very attractive.
In the United Kingdom, for example, up to 15% of adults have received phony work offers, with many unemployed citizens accepting these offers. In most cases, the targets receive an email or respond to a job listing asking for part-time employees to simply process or transfer funds between their bank account and other accounts. It’s a simple job that can be done at home, and it pays well for the number of hours worked per week. The companies seem legitimate: they typically pose as IT or tech companies, or financial service providers, although almost any industry could be a front.
In reality, these part-time ‘employees’ are helping criminals launder money. Unfortunately, even though these ‘middle men’ may not realize that they are part of a criminal operation, they can still face jail time, have their bank accounts frozen, and have trouble opening new accounts, receiving credit, or taking out a mortgage.
Another common scam is for criminals to emulate a real business, or create a business website and profile that makes them seem like a legitimate operation. When job seekers send in a CV or respond to a job posting, these scam companies will ‘accept’ the applicant and offer them a position – but only if they pay a fee or purchase special software.
If you are looking for work and come across any of the following in a job listing, you may have been targeted by a scam artist:
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails. If you have been sending your CV to a number of businesses, keep a note of where you’ve applied and the business details. If you receive any generic emails from an unknown company, chances are it’s a scam.
- Be wary of vague job postings. If it’s unclear what the job entails, or the skill-set required is too broad, it could be a scam. Legitimate companies looking for an employee will typically specify exactly what kind of person they’re looking for, and what the job involves.
- Never provide your personal details or bank information. Similarly, be skeptical of companies that ask you to pay a fee or purchase something before you can start working.
- Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes, and dubious email addresses or webpages. If the company doesn’t have a professional email address (i.e. not a Gmail or Yahoo account), then they may not be a real business.