Knowledge |Risk Management

1st December 2021

Employment fraud: be diligent

As the number of opportunities to apply for jobs online increases, so does the risk of being targeted by employment fraud.

Online job scams and employment fraud are when jobseekers are under the pretence that they are in an application process but are instead being scammed into giving up their personal data, including bank account or credit card information.

In this way, criminals can conduct identity theft – gathering people’s personal information and then applying for loans or credit cards in their victims’ names. The Federal Trade Commission says employment fraud also occurs via phishing, whereby scammers use malicious links or websites to obtain the personal information of their victims.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has revealed that “85% of identity fraud is committed via online channels, and Cifas members recorded almost 158,000 cases of identity fraud in the first nine months of 2021. Not only is this an increase of 17% compared to 2020, but this is equivalent to one person every 2.5 minutes.”

As well as using online methods, perpetrators might conduct ‘interviews’ by phone and ask upfront for payment for certification or training materials before considering the applicant for a ‘job’, which often does not exist.

In a widescale study of 12,000 jobseekers by JobsAware (previously SAFERjobs), 71.3% of workers said they assumed that any job found online was a legitimate posting from a real business. A staggering 98% admitted they would still apply for a job even if they thought it was suspicious.

It is important that jobseekers remain vigilant when applying for jobs online.

Signs of potential employment fraud

  • Companies asking for any sort of payment during the application process.
  • Interviews taking place over messaging services such as Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts.
  • Unclear job descriptions or being offered a job that isn’t the one you applied for.
  • Unprofessional-looking emails with misspellings or grammatical errors.
  • Emails coming from personal accounts such as Yahoo or Gmail, rather than a business email address. (However, email spoofing may be used, so be wary even if the email address appears genuine, and conduct further research on the company).
  • Fake job boards and recruiter websites that might ask for card details for ‘pre-screening’ or personal bank account number to start depositing payslips.

Until you are sure of the credibility of a company that has contacted you about a potential job, do not give out personal information or financial information. Research the company – for example, look at their website, social media accounts, Companies House listing, any online reviews, etc. – to make sure that the job posting is real. Call the company’s phone number (if you find a number for them through your own research, rather than a number in the email or job posting) to verify that they sent an email or posted the job online.

Use caution when deciding on the information you include in your CV, as these details could be used in identity fraud. As a rule, do not include any of the following:

  • Date of birth
  • Full address
  • Passport number
  • National Insurance number
  • Driving licence number.

Protect yourself against employment fraud

  • Conduct an online search for the name of the employer alongside the word ‘scam’ to check for reports of job scams.
  • Be wary of vague job descriptions.
  • Don’t believe anything that sounds too good to be true; for example, if the pay on offer is very high but for little work.
  • Be cautious about online forms that are part of the interview process and never include personal or financial information on these.
  • Be wary of mystery shopper or secret shopper positions.
  • Jobs that involve receiving and reshipping packages are likely scams.
  • Do not respond to calls, text messages or emails from unknown numbers or suspicious addresses.
  • Do not click any links in a text message from a number you do not recognise. If a friend sends you a message containing a suspicious link, and it seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.

If you think you’re a victim of employment fraud, the first step is to cut all communication with the fraudulent party. Take note of their details and file a report with Action Fraud. If you have given any bank details, get in touch with your bank immediately.

For futher help and advice on preventing and avoiding fraud or dealing with an ongoing fraud, please contact us at, on +44 (0)843 515 8686 or via our contact form.

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