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Job advertisement scams on the rise in the UK

job scam example

Scam job adverts are flooding social media. Especially during quiet periods like now, when opportunities for employment are scarce, cybercriminals are targeting vulnerable and desperate job seekers. Those adverts usually use big and reputable company names, very competitive salaries and benefits like working from home. Scammers can also impersonate job agencies, leading you to malicious jobs.

What they want?

personal information
Your information

It is justified that your prospective employer needs your personal information. It could include photos of your ID, national insurance number and bank details. With this set of information backed up with copies of your documents, adversaries can commit identity theft or financial fraud on your name, leaving you in debt and with legal action against you.

personal information
Your passwords

Recruitment often involves creating an account at the job portal. Despite it is highly discouraged, many people re-use their passwords. After registration, the scammer will use your password to gain access to your other accounts. With access to your email account, scammers could reset passwords to other services and gain full control e.g. over your bank account.

Your money

Some of the scam job offers require upfront payment for equipment or background checks. Usually, an employer covers those expenses, but in rare cases when this is your liability, an employer will deduct from your first salary to cover the costs. If you are asked to pay any money during the recruitment - be suspicious.

secure device
Device control

Frequently websites they are serving are infected with malware, and just clicking the link may be enough to get infected. Keep your browser and antivirus up to date, including on your mobile devices to protect yourself from viruses.

How to spot a scam

Vague job descriptions

Scam adverts often lack specific details about job responsibilities, qualifications required, or the company itself. Be wary of ads that are overly general or promise high pay for simple tasks. Another red flag is when a link is not leading to the company's website (e.g. TinyURL, Google Sites...)

Too good to be true

If the salary or benefits seem disproportionately high for the type of work being offered, it's a red flag. Scammers use enticing offers to lure in unsuspecting job seekers.

Request for personal information

Legitimate employers typically do not ask for sensitive personal information (such as bank account details or National Insurance numbers) in the initial stages of recruitment. If a job advert requires this information upfront, proceed with caution.

Upfront payments or fees

Be wary of job adverts that require you to pay for training materials, background checks, or other expenses before you can start working. Legitimate employers usually cover these costs themselves.

Unprofessional communication

Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or overly aggressive and persuasive language in the job advert or communication from the employer can indicate a scam. Legitimate companies maintain professionalism in their communications. Stay alert if they are using public email services (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail etc).

If you are unsure and do not want to miss out, there are a few steps you can do to verify the job offer:

For a reputable and well-known company, research their careers portal. They want to hire you, so they won't hide their job offer. If you find it - apply through their website, not through the suspicious link you've seen on social media.

If you don't know the company or its name feels off, search for scam reports. Previous victims tend to warn others via reviews or comments. Company name or domain can be misspelt for a purpose. Wrap it in quotes to ensure search engine will not fix your spelling.

If you are a victim

If you paid any money, contact your bank and police immediately

Your bank might still be able to stop your transaction, and even if it is too late, they will support you in recovering your money. Follow instructions on the ActionFraud website to report crime to the police.

Sweep all your devices with an antivirus scan

This includes your smartphone or tablet. Free antivirus software is available for any device, and mobile devices are often targeted with malware.

If you created an account re-using your password

change your passwords immediately. Start from the most critical services like your email account that could recover your access to other accounts.

Do not warn the scammer

When you realize you have been scammed, immediately stop communication with the scammer. This not only saves you from additional stress but also keeps the scammer unaware of ongoing actions.

For further support, visit JobsAware, a non-profit organisation that will support you through further steps in recovering after a scam.

ActionFraud JobsAware

Business at risk

While job adverts are targeted towards job seekers, businesses are also at risk. Building an online presence or reputation is often too complex for criminals who need to shuffle strategies to evade law enforcers and public awareness.

Criminals can impersonate you as a prospective employer and gain trust using your brand and resources. This could be done by cloning, breaching or click-jacking your website, being able to send legitimate emails from your business network, and more. Damages to reputation and costs of recovery led 50% of affected SMEs to close.

But we can help you! From security assessment of your public-facing infrastructure, through research of fraud attempts, to gathering evidence or securing your virtual assets, we are here to help. Browse our services or contact us for further details.

Read more:

ActionFraud: Recruitment scam

GOV UK: New Year jobseekers urged to watch out for 7 signs of job scams

We are not affiliated with or endorsed by organisations mentioned within this guide. Those are the UK government or police-led organisations acting as the best point of initial contact or source of reliable information.