Experts have seen a rise in scams during the pandemic.
Job hunting during a pandemic is tough enough as it is. Now cyber criminals are making it harder for job seekers to tell the real opportunities from the fake, authorities say.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning those on the job search to watch out for fake online listings. The FBI says scammers are posing as legitimate employers looking for prospective hires, only to trick them into divulging personal or financial information.
“Fake Job Scams have existed for a long time but technology has made this scam easier and more lucrative,” the agency said in a news release, adding that over 16,000 Americans fell victim to employment scams in 2020.
Security experts said fraudsters will often spoof a legitimate employer’s website using a similar domain and post phony job listings on popular job boards such as Monster.com or Indeed. The “employer,” who is likely a scammer impersonating a hiring manager, recruiter or other department personnel, will interview unsuspecting applicants and ask them for cash or personal information.
The ruse puts job seekers at risk of identity theft, experts say, and further hurts those facing financial challenges.
A 2020 report by the Better Business Bureau found that nearly 75 percent of people who lost money in employment scams were already struggling to pay their monthly bills. In April, there have been at least 90 employment scams reported on the BBB’s Scam Tracker, including one person who said they lost $3,500.
“This research was timely as we found that more than half of scam targets were seeking work-from-home opportunities,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, who heads the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. “As more people search for flexible employment opportunities following the coronavirus outbreak, they need to know that scammers are out there in force and targeting those most in need.”
Scammers may ask for the same information as real employers, making it harder to tell when you’re being targeted, security experts say. So how can you tell if you’re being duped?
Red flags should go up if a job interview is conducted virtually via a teleconference app that uses an email address rather than a phone number, according to the FBI. Potential employers who contact applicants via non-company email domains or require applicants to buy “start up equipment” should also be avoided.
Potential hires who applied via a job board should also double check a company’s website to make sure the listing appears there too, the FBI said. Most importantly, experts say legitimate employers will never ask for credit card information.
Those who believe they’re the victim of an employment scam should report the incident to the the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.