What are Job Scams? (Types, Warning Signs, and Security Measures)
The US Federal Trade Commission's recent data reveals a significant increase in business-impersonation scams, including job scams – with the number of incidents almost quadrupling from 25,798 in Q2 2020 to 97,779 in Q3 2022.
These staggering numbers are the main reason why businesses are advised to intensify their defense against such fraud. But what exactly is a job scam and how can you spot one? We sat down with Ed Griffin, one of ITS’ partners in security, to talk us through this surging scam.
At Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS), we’ve been helping hundreds of businesses strengthen their network defenses. In this article, we’ll go over:
- What is a job scam?
- What is the impact of a job scam on your business?
- How can you protect your business from a job scam?
After reading, you should be made aware of job scams and how identifying them can help avoid potential risks.
What is a job scam?
Job scams are fraudulent schemes that aim to trick job seekers into providing personal information or paying money for job opportunities that don't exist.
“Basically, a cybercriminal will post on a job site, acting as a recruiter for a company, trying to convince people to look at the job listing,” Griffin says. “If the victim ends up providing personally identifiable information (PII) such as their name, address, Social Security number, bank account, or email address, the hacker will use that information to either impersonate that person or get into systems.”
These scams often use fake job listings, promising high salaries, flexible work hours, and other perks to lure victims. A few of the most common types are:
These scams offer high-paying jobs that victims can do from the comfort of their own homes. The hackers often require them to pay a fee upfront to receive training materials or equipment. However, once they pay the fee, they may never hear from the company again.
Mystery shopper scams
This type of job scam offers victims the opportunity to work as mystery shoppers, evaluating the service quality of stores or businesses. The recruiter typically asks them to pay for training or to deposit a check and wire money back as part of the job. Unfortunately, the check is usually fake, leaving the unsuspecting job seeker responsible for the money they wired.
Job interview scams
In these scams, fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies and conduct fake job interviews over the phone or online. They ask for personal information or require the victim to pay for a background check or credit report. Once they provide the information or pay the fee, they may use it for identity theft or disappear altogether.
What is the impact of a job scam on your business?
It goes without saying that any type of scam can harm a business. But in the case of a job scam, there may be lasting reputational damage that can be hard to recover from.
When your business, unfortunately, gets caught up with a job scam, here are some of the major impacts you can expect:
1. Damage to reputation
If scammers use your company name or brand to perpetrate a job scam, it can damage your reputation greatly. Job seekers who fall for the scam may associate your company with fraudulent activity. Questions such as, “Why didn't this company know about this?” or “How could they let this happen?” may arise, harming the company's image and credibility.
Fortunately, Griffin recommended the use of cyber insurance to help rectify the situation or reputational damage.
Related reading: Does My Company Need Cyber Insurance?
2. Loss of time and resources
Companies may need to spend time and resources responding to inquiries from job seekers who have been targeted by a scam. This can take valuable time away from other vital tasks and lead to frustration and low morale among your team members.
3. Decreased job seeker trust
Going back to the first point, job scams can erode the trust that job seekers have in the hiring process and make them more skeptical of legitimate job opportunities. This can make it harder for companies like yours to attract and retain top talent, as job seekers may be hesitant to apply for or accept job offers.
4. Legal and financial liability
In some cases, companies may be held legally or financially liable for job scams that occur using their name or brand. This can result in costly lawsuits, fines, and damage to your organization's finances and reputation.
How can you protect your business from a job scam?
If you don’t want your business to suffer the consequences of a job scam, you must prioritize implementing these security measures:
1. Monitor job listings
Regularly check online job boards and social media platforms to ensure that there are no fraudulent job postings using your company's name or logo.
“You can point someone in your team to focus on looking for scammers, those who are using the name of your business without consent.” Griffin suggests.
Then, if you find any suspicious job listings, report them to the appropriate authorities and have them taken down immediately.
2. Use secure communication channels
Communication is essential to run a business, but you must also take the safety of shared information into account. Use secure email, chat, and messaging tools to communicate with job seekers, and avoid using personal email accounts or social media platforms for job-related communications.
Making sure that all communication tools used by your company are encrypted and have two-factor authentication enabled may also help.
3. Educate job seekers
Educate job seekers on how to identify and avoid job scams and provide them with clear instructions on how to apply for job opportunities at your company. Consider posting a warning on your company's website and job postings, alerting job seekers to the possibility of job scams. These warning signs may include cautioning them against:
- Unsolicited job offers
- Upfront fees
- Too-good-to-be-true offers
- Poor grammar and spelling
- Pressure to act quickly
4. Use a reputable recruitment agency
If you use a recruitment agency to find job candidates, ensure it has a track record of providing legitimate job opportunities. Check the agency's references and credentials, and only use licensed and regulated agencies.
5. Train employees
Train your employees on how to identify and report job scams, and make sure that they know the proper procedures for responding to inquiries from job seekers. You must also encourage employees to report any suspicious activity to management as soon as possible.
Need help protecting yourself from job scams?
Job scams can have significant consequences for businesses, including:
- Reputational damage
- Financial loss
- Decreased job seeker trust
- Legal troubles
Thus, it is crucial for businesses to take steps to protect themselves from these scams, such as:
- Regularly monitoring job listings
- Using secure communication tools
- Educating job seekers
- Using a reputable recruitment agency
- Training employees
More importantly, it is critical to remain vigilant and stay up to date on the latest job scam tactics to identify and avoid potential scams.
By taking these measures, you can safeguard yourself from the negative impact of job scams and maintain your financial and reputational integrity.
At ITS, we’ve helped hundreds of clients protect their networks and bolster their cybersecurity efforts. If you want to know how we can help protect your business against job scams, schedule a one-on-one meeting with one of our experts today. You can also check out the following resources:
- 3 Cybersecurity Solutions Your Business Should Have
- What Businesses Need to Know About Managed Cybersecurity Services
- The Whys and Hows of an Engaging Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program