Jobseekers targeted by scammers: How to avoid being conned

It is frightening the many scams that unsuspecting people are still falling victim to today despite increased awareness and heightened suspicion of fraudulent activity. Most recently we have seen stories hit national headlines surrounding various charity race scams and mobile banking SMiShing. The recruitment sector is unfortunately one that also falls victim to scams.

Last week The Times reported the story of an 18-year-old gap year student who had fallen victim to a job scam after she applied for a job on She was phoned and invited to an interview and the firm sent out an application form in a prepaid envelope with interview details, date, time and address. The unknowing student was then asked for her bank information to verify her identity.

It was only when she turned up to her interview that she realised she had been victim to a cruel scam as the office did not exist. The address she had been provided was in fact a shop, and when she went inside to inquire, she was informed that others had also been given that address as part of a wider scam on multiple jobseekers.

The candidate went straight to the bank to find that a number of mobile phone contracts had been taken out with her card details. Although payments were stopped, payment notices were sent from different providers such as o2 and Vodafone saying she had failed to adhere to her phone contract.

On the rise and unsure what to look for

Sadly, scammers are on the rise as Keith Rosser, Chairman of SAFERjobs explains “in the last two years, we have witnessed a 300% rise in recruitment related fraud and misconduct”.

SAFERjobs’ research has also found that 72.1% of job hunters admitted they do not know and would not recognise the signs of a job scam. Here, we outline what a job scam is and what signs you can look out for if you think you’re becoming involved in a fictitious job application.

What is a job scam?

This is when a scammer poses as an employer or recruiter, and offers attractive employment opportunities which requires the job seeker to pay money in advance. This is usually under the guise of work visas, travel expenses, background and/or credit checks that are required for the job. Action Fraud warns that scammers often charge for non-existent checks to persuade people to call premium-rate phone lines for interviews.

Once the money has been handed over, the scammer disappears. Their goals is to separate you from your money and / or obtain confidential information that can be used for identify theft.

Recognising the signs of a job scam:

– Never pay money up front. We will not ask you to part with any money when registering with us and neither should any other agency. A professional recruitment agency will never ask you to part with money in order to find work.

– When choosing an agency, visit the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s member directory on their website – Prime Staff are listed as an agency committed to adhering to strict industry codes of practice.

– Don’t hand out personal information such as your National Insurance number or date of birth. We would only request this information from you when we have met you personally to register you so we can carry out job seeking activity on your behalf, or once we have spoken to you directly via telephone interview and explained the application process, which would also be followed up with a professional email. Do not ever give out your personal details to anyone other than the reputable agency with whom you are registered with. If you have included your full address on your CV online, you may want to consider reducing this to just the town rather than specific address

– The offer sounds too good to be true. Maybe the salary is way over what you would normally earn and the offer hasn’t been evaluated on your skill set and experience; If you’re offered the job straight away without a formal interview; Working from home and the pay is great. The idea of making lots of money whilst being able to work as home sounds great, but is a favourite with scammers to attract gullible job seekers.

– You receive the job details from someone with a free e-mail addresses like Yahoo or Hotmail. Legitimate job-related emails will come from corporate email accounts, for example all Consultants at Prime Staff come from – An alias can be set up, so ensure you check the ‘from’ e-mail address properly to view the full domain.

– Do some research on the company by visiting their website. If they don’t have one or don’t have contact details, tread cautiously. If they do, compare contact details or email addresses or how they appear in a company directory.

– Fake URLs. As well as false email aliases, scammers often use fake URLs to mask themselves as well-known corporates. Always check the URL first to ensure the website you are visiting is the official site.

– Job descriptions that are so vague that almost everyone would qualify. A real vacancy would list requirements quite specific to the role and the experience needed from the right candidate.

– Spelling errors or poorly written e-mails. Most fraud is carried out by scammers outside the UK, with English not being their first language.

What to do if you think you’ve found a scam

If you’re wary of a job advert, treat it with caution. Notify the job board, or agency, website, company, wherever you found the posting. In addition, you can also report it to SAFERJobs and they will be more than happy to look at your concerns.

If you need any further advice or want to register with Prime Staff to find your next role, please contact us today and we can go through the application process with you.