How to protect yourself from online job scams

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In the sometimes overwhelming pursuit of finding a job after graduation, it is easy to forget that not all jobs posted online offer authentic opportunities.

With the good comes the bad and while technology has provided us with many things that have projected modern humans into never-before-imagined convenient living - travel, instantaneous messaging and such - the duality of this comfort and convenience is online fraud and online identity theft.

No doubt you've have heard plenty about protecting yourself online by securing strong passwords for email, banking and social media accounts. But you may not be quite so vigilant when applying for jobs posted online.

Don't run the risk of a rude awakening to the realities of the online world!

The danger of job scams

Research has found that students and graduate job seekers to be the most vulnerable group for job scams. Even though anyone can be susceptible to online recruitment fraud, a collaborative investigation involving an e-crime non-profit organisation and Safer-jobs has revealed that 1 in 3 job scam victims in the UK are recent graduates and students.

This is mainly down to the inexperience of students and graduates at job hunting who lack the important skill at being able to differentiate between an authentic job ad and a fake one. Another disturbing study has found that online job fraud costs the average victim about £4,000.

Forewarned is indeed forearmed. Knowing the tell-tale signs to look out for will help in preventing you from being another statistic of recruitment fraud. Remember to avoid any offer that asks you to pay an upfront fee. Other helpful tips include:

  • The company should initiate the call for a phone interview.
  • Never offer personal information (banking details, National Insurance number, etc.) during a job application process.
  • Do due diligence. Research the company by checking out their website, LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts. It is also advised to check any contact details offered such as landline telephone numbers.

The many different faces of fraudulent online recruitment practices

As you peruse job opportunities, here are a few different types of recruitment scams that point to fraudulent offers:

Job scams involving money

  • Be wary of opportunities that include advance-fee request such as those asking for money to conduct security background and police checks.
  • Some scams ask you to pay for expensive training programmes that do not exist.
  • Laundering money scams that appear to be genuine jobs that require victims to purchase office equipment and dispatch it to another address or you ask you to cash cheques.

Premium-rate phone scams

You're asked to call a number thinking it is an initial phone interview. You are either kept on hold or the 'fake' phone interview lasts for a lengthy period of time, costing you hundreds of pounds.

Scams that 'sell the dream'

The caution against things that appears too good to be true applies here. If a job opportunity comes with a high salary but there is little skills or qualifications or experience required, the chances are very likely it is a scam to be best avoided.

Safer-jobs is a joint initiative established in partnership with law enforcement organisations to protect and support job seekers from online fraud recruitment practices. If an online job search is a critical part of your job search process, their website has a list of job boards that promote safer job searches. If you come across a suspected fraudulent offer or are in doubt that a job offer is genuine, it is best to seek their free advice or report the job scam to them for investigation.

Zulfah Abrahams writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.

Image credit: Jon Moore