Criminals are known to target job seekers, looking for ways to scam them out of their money or steal their identity. We identified common job scams and have some tips on how you can avoid them.
Common job scams
There are two things criminals might try and steal from you when you are looking for a job – your money or your personal details such as your ID number or bank account details.
Job scams to steal your money
In these scams, criminals pose as employers or recruiters and ask for money in return for some sort of service, for example:
- A fee to put you forward for a job, or as a preferred candidate
- Money to cover training costs, telling you the training is essential if you want the job
- A fee so they can conduct a credit check
- Money to cover accommodation costs, uniforms or other items before you get an employment contract
How do you identify these scams?
This one is easy – no legitimate recruiter or employer will ask you for money for any purpose before you are employed. The minute someone asks you for money, walk away! Report them to the portal or publication where their advert was placed.
If you do need to stay over for a job interview either pay your own costs directly or ask the company to pay these upfront and confirm any booking before you travel.
Job scams to obtain your personal details
The purpose of these job scams is also to get money, but here the criminals use your personal details to steal from you or to set up other scams. For example, they might use your personal data to create fake social media profiles that can be used to scam other people. Examples include:
- Using your ID number and personal details to open accounts in your name and then buying goods and services on credit, leaving you with the debt
- Obtaining your bank account and other details and withdrawing money from your account
- Using your fake social media profile to get your family and friends to donate to a good cause or invest in a scheme, in reality the request comes from criminals and any money donated or invested goes directly to their account
How do you identify these scams?
Although these are harder to identify than scams where people ask you for money, there are a few warning signs:
- Requests for personal details such as your ID number or your address before an interview
- Requests for your bank account details or other financial information
You should also look out for signs that the “recruiter” is not genuine, such as:
- The absence of specific details, like the full name of the recruiter or the company, in their communication
- Recently created LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram profiles with very few posts, or a company website with limited information and no contact details or “About” section
- Personal email addresses or email addresses that seem strange – for example an advert for positions at the local municipality has an email address that doesn’t make sense, such as firstname.lastname@example.org
- Misspellings or other small mistakes in ads
- Logos or corporate colours of well-known companies are used, but are slightly different to the official version such as a lighter shade of blue or larger font size
Protect yourself against scams
- Don’t include personal details like your address and ID number when you send a CV to a person or company you don’t know or when you place your CV online on a jobs portal. Just include a contact number and email address. Only give out your ID number when you are sure the person or company is legitimate and always make a note of who you give your ID number to.
- Research the recruiter and/or potential employer – make sure they have an online presence, search for news articles about them, and call the contact number on the website to make sure the company and/or recruiter actually exists.
- Always do your research before you take up opportunities offered on social sites like Facebook and WhatsApp and market sites like Gumtree – some are legitimate, some are not.
- Be suspicious of too much pressure. Be on your guard if the recruiter tries to pressure you into something, such as giving your ID number or making a quick decision, often on the basis that there are many applicants.
- Be suspicious of too much praise. For example, if you are applying for a junior position that pays an average salary, recruiters won’t wine and dine you or tell you that only you can do this job. It’s more likely that they want you to relax so that you are more likely to part with money or personal information, or worse so they can commit a crime.
- Read online job portals’ tips on how to avoid scams and for the latest scams such as on Jobmail and The Jobs Portal.
As well as being on the lookout for scams, it’s a good idea to follow general safety rules when you meet up:
- Meet a recruiter or potential employer during the day at their business premises or a public place, like a coffee shop in a mall
- Tell someone where you are going and what time they should expect you back
- Keep your phone on and charged when you are out
Take your time
It’s tough in the job market – but don’t be bullied or conned. You are a professional seeking professional employment and should only deal with professional recruiters and companies. Be on your guard and check carefully to make sure the company is legitimate, and the job opportunity is genuine. Good luck with the job hunt!