Protect Your Business and Employees from Fake Job Scams

March 18, 2021

Learn how to spot and safeguard against scammers posing as recruiters and other employees to steal personal data.
Mitch Hood Headshot

By: Mitch Hood

Vice President of IT Operations and Chief Information Security Officer, Paylocity

With more employees working remotely than ever this past year, businesses have been challenged with heightened security and continuity threats. In addition to protecting consumer information, HR professionals are also tasked with keeping employees’ personal data safe. “The rapid, widespread adoption of work-from-home tools has put considerable strain on security teams, which must safeguard these tools without making it hard or impossible for employees to work,” says McKinsey & Company’s report “Cybersecurity tactics for the coronavirus.”

With pandemic unemployment levels peaking at an unprecedented 14.8% in April 2020, the market is flooded with job seekers, creating more opportunities for scammers to take advantage. One such trick is to pose as a recruiter or hiring manager from a real company, place fake job postings under the company’s name, convince applicants they’ve been offered a position, and steal each candidate’s personal information. While not a new tactic, fake job posts and complaints have spiked in 2020.

What Are Job Scams?

Job scams can take different forms, but they usually ask job seekers to share financial information or unknowingly perform fraudulent activity before any compensation is given. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains a few of the more common versions:

  • Reshipping or Reselling Items: Victims are asked to either repackage and resend a shipment to another address or purchase expensive items at a discount and resell them for an alleged profit. However, after giving over any money or information, nothing actually arrives.
  • Caregiver or Personal Assistant Roles: Fraudsters will “hire” a victim, ask that person to cash a fake check at a bank, and then send most, if not all, of the money to a third person. When the bank discovers the check is fake, victims are asked to pay back the full amount.
  • Mystery Shopping: To become an undercover shopper who reviews a store’s services or products, victims of this scam will get requests to pay for certifications or job guarantees that real undercover shoppers do not need.
  • Job Placement Services: Scammers will charge fees for services that either do not exist or are for outdated postings. Real staffing agencies do not typically ask candidates to pay fees (hiring companies normally pay them).

How to Spot a Fake Job

Beyond common red flags, like poor spelling or grammar, Norton’s Security Center notes seven warnings people can look for to protect themselves from a scam:

  • Interviews which occur solely through internet messaging services, such as Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts.
  • Emails that sound unprofessional and are sent from personal webmail services, such as Gmail, with no other contact information.
  • Job descriptions with either vague or missing requirements for the position.
  • Requests from the interviewer for personal or financial information during or before the interview.
  • Any requests for payment or purchases to continue with the application process.
  • Offers for career counseling services instead of the job itself.
  • Job offers for openings that do not match the opening discussed in the interview.

Protect Against Fake Job Fraud

Whether you’re seeing candidates who responded to fraudulent job postings or trying to help colleagues stay aware, here are a few key steps you can take to safeguard your organization:

We too have recently experienced some incidents like these at Paylocity, with scammers posing as our recruiters and hiring managers. Visit our Career Opportunities page to find out how you can verify an offer from Paylocity is legitimate, and check out our latest PCTY Talks podcast for more advice on, How to Protect Your Organization from Scams.

Ultimately, the best way to guard against scams and their perpetrators is to remain informed and vigilant. Being aware of new tactics and how to spot or report them will help ensure your company does not become a victim. Sharing that information will even further protect your industry from those trying to take advantage today and tomorrow.


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