Just because you cross the street at the corner during a green light doesn’t mean you won’t get hit. You can use this logic when implementing security measures while job searching on job sites.
With the right Internet security software and cautious job-searching intelligence, you can make it much harder to get scammed. I’ve talked about this for several years on the podcast, as a Lensa contributor, and in the news.
In my next article, I will discuss what you can do to minimize and own more control of navigating the Internet job sites and social platforms safely. For this article, I hope to bring you more awareness.
I’m watching, but every career pro needs to be more vigilant.
I wish every career services provider had job searching precautions as a part (not a separate service) of the value to their clients. Very few career services professionals publicly discuss it, from what I see on LinkedIn and Twitter (X). It may disenchant people approaching providers if they are not helping them discern the scammers from the providers who go out of their way to offer value.
Today’s technology enables scammers or anyone else to create fake social media profiles, websites, phone numbers, job descriptions, and bank accounts. They can also create the illusion of legitimacy by using real profiles while recruiting but using other means to communicate with the scammer, not the legitimate service provider. Career services professionals need to offer warnings and some assistance in identifying scammers.
Scammers are masquerading as “angels of light” to unsuspected job seekers.
For instance, one young man was a victim contacted by a scammer masquerading as a recruiter by using the actual recruiter and company as a front. The victim did little to no research when approached by the scammer. When he finally became suspicious, he contacted me (after seeing my warning posts on LinkedIn), but it was too late because he gave personal information. If he had looked at LinkedIn, he would have found the person’s name, but a closer look would have revealed this was different from the person who recruited him.
Every job board you see needs to be more legitimate, too. Companies with online job boards should emulate Flexjobs, where each job listed is vetted. I could go on a tangent about how I feel about job boards, but in the end, it’s a necessary tool to find jobs today. Here are a few signs to consider to help separate the bad ones from the better. I wrote an article about it, but here is the quick hit list of what to look for in suspect job boards:
- There are grammar errors, misspellings, and misrepresentations of the job description that have nothing to do with the job.
- There are fake remote jobs and fake companies listed as remote (sometimes they will say it’s a “special” position) as too good to be true.
- Contact information is wrong (e.g., the company email address is misspelled).
- The job description is too good to be true.
- The website cited has a strange spelling.
Job search scammers make you give money to get more money.
Every job seeker will need to put some measures in place to help them navigate job boards, social media, and vet recruiters looking for prey. I understand one thing: knowledgeable people are falling for scams daily. Many need to heed the warnings scammers make obvious or have hidden in plain sight. They intend to lure you into giving your private information, such as your phone number, bank info, social security numbers, address, and work history.
Here are a few things you can do today to make it harder to be scammed:
Some companies (and more should do this) published a “How We Hire” page to give job seekers an idea of their hiring process. If someone says, “This is a special situation,” and instructs you differently than the hiring page, then ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn. They may do one of the following:
❌They may use an account with no photo or a sparsely filled-out profile to connect with you.
❌They might identify as HR personnel with a legit profile and possibly an active user. You can ask if they can connect with you on LinkedIn. It might be an uncomfortable ask, but it is a better way to eliminate the doubts of a fake employer.
❌They may ask for a quick interview (without a screening process). Most times, it’s a virtual interview with an office background (with people working in the background).
❌They have hijacked legit social media profiles to prey on the trust given to unknowingly scammed users. They provide erroneous information and get you to connect with a victim on another platform such as WhatsApp, Facebook page, or an unheard-of platform created to hone their illicit messaging to victims. Check out this warning from the FTC.
❌ LinkedIn has been a place where many scams have occurred, and to LinkedIn’s credit, they have put in a verification process to authenticate the user and their communication. It’s a big step forward I hope other platforms will consider.
❌ Fake employers use interviews to “test” candidates by getting them to do illegal duties as a vetting tool.
❌ Scammers want you to invest money upfront to pay fake companies and services.
Scammers are becoming more creative and tech-savvy by the day.
Here are some recent articles I’ve come across to help you identify potential scammers:
Scammers use online job boards to offer employment to those who send money converted to Crypto.
Some people end up performing illegal tasks where money laundering is one of the requirements.
A company wants you to sell products by paying money to a fake company and service for a product and promises to pay you when you sell it.
Terminating the communication is best coupled with reporting their attempt to contact you. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) is a great place to start, especially if the scammer is pretending to represent a company.
I will be saying more about this in the upcoming weeks. There are many more layers of scamming, and their efforts will only increase. Career services must take on the challenge of educating upcoming graduates on job scams. Don’t rely on others’ warnings; educate yourself and know and respond to warnings. Report scammers and block them on social platforms if you’re using them.