Job scams are not restricted to the recruitment industry, they occur wherever there is a job seeker and the promise of a job. This point is often forgotten as people have been quick to associate job scams with the recruitment industry. This simply isn’t true: what is often not appreciated is that using a reputable company within the recruitment industry actually lowers the chances of a job scam.
It is widely reported that job scams are on the rise, 1 of 10 types of scams the Daily Telegraph warned people to be vigilant of in 2014. In the last month alone SAFERjobs, the non-profit joint law enforcement organisation campaigning to tackle the growing problem of job scams, have appeared on BBC Radio, regional BBC News programmes, and on BBC1’s Fake Britain on an episode investigating fake jobs (aired Friday May 2nd, 9.15am).
Why is job hunting so attractive to fraudsters? Coming tentatively out of a recession, many people are looking for their next step. Perhaps the recession has meant people have stayed in their current role longer than they might have liked, and now change is overdue. For those currently out of a job, the lure of paid employment can be extremely hard to turn down. Having the right job is so important to all of us, and often what looks like the right job can be all too tempting.
From the reports SAFERjobs have received this year, the fake jobs have not been specific to a particular sector, or even to a particular level. The fake job covers everything from entry level factory work to six figure salary finance roles, and everything in between. The other key factor in nearly all job scams is online technology, and where is so much job hunting now done? Online. A recent KPMG report highlighted virtual online fraud as a growth area and so much of recruitment relies on online technology, whether social media or online job boards. All of this creates a large target market and multiple opportunities for the fraudster to commit fraud.
Fraudsters use fake jobs for many reasons and sadly SAFERjobs have seen many examples of each this year; to gain financial reward by tricking job seekers into parting with cash upfront, to steal people’s personal information such as bank or identity details, to use malware to steal money straight from people’s bank accounts, or in some cases, such as the more common to the US scam of using a person’s bank account for ‘clients’ to pay into for the individual to then transfer on, to trick people into unwittingly laundering money.
In the last six months there have been a number of high profile cases in the press: the £1m Harrods / Gumtree case, Shell issuing a global warning after fraudsters began offering fake jobs using the company brand logo, one of the largest mining companies in the world, Anglo American, had to issue general advice in the news and on its website, after fraudsters targeted work seekers with spurious jobs, and a Channel 4 news expose investigating claims that 11,000 bogus jobs had been posted on the government job site, Universal Job Match (UJM). The government job site was described earlier this year by Frank Field MP as being “bedevilled with fraud”.
In all of the above cases the fraud was facilitated by online technology. Job fraud also occurs via cloned company websites (this happened to Emirates in 2013) or people acting as an agent on behalf of a recruiting company. Recent news stories and reports to SAFER-jobs from job seekers have also highlighted the growing issue of fake profiles on LinkedIn offering non-existent jobs for either money or data theft. The growth in fake profiles on LinkedIn has been reported by Recruitment Agency Now and much of the work of SAFERjobs currently is to help people avoid being tricked by the fake profiles. Social media sites are also great ways for fraudsters to find unwitting job seekers and to gain a full employment history and background to use in building the relationship.
So job scams exist wherever there is a job seeker and the offer of a job, either within the recruitment industry or completely separate from it. There are some very important reasons, however, that using a reputable recruitment company can actually reduce the likelihood of job scams occurring. Here are our top recommended ways of avoiding job scams:
- Using a Recruitment Company who are a Member of an Industry Association means An Extra Level of Checks
- Reputable recruitment companies who are members of a trade association will have had their baseline processes checked. The REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation), APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies), and TEAM (The Employment Agencies Movement) all require their member organisations to adhere to a set of standards. This gives an additional level of reassurance to job seekers that they are dealing with a reputable company. To check this is simple, either search for the association logos on the company website, or go direct to the association and search by member. These companies will be working hard to protect their own reputations and will therefore have standards in place to prevent job scams.
- Using a Recruitment Company means Someone to Report to
- The REC, APSCo, and TEAM all offer impartial, 3rd party complaints and investigation processes meaning any job seeker not happy with a member organisation has somewhere to report. This means if a job seeker is concerned about job scams, they have a third party to report to. All job seekers can also report to SAFERjobs using our online reporting tool at www.safer-jobs.com. If a job seeker does become the victim of a job scam after using a recruitment company who are a member of an association, there is still the opportunity for the organisation to be investigated.
- Using a Recruitment Company means High Standards
- Recruitment companies are passionate about what they do and about protecting their reputation. As the issue of job scams grows, so too does the vigilance and understanding shown by recruitment companies. They use this learning to develop their own systems and processes to ensure job seekers do not fall victim to a scam. Recruitment companies also have to meet legislative standards. The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) are a government organisation who work to uphold those standards and deal with any issues that do occur. Any job seeker can also report wrongdoing to EASI, providing a further place to report.
- Using a Recruitment Company means a High Level of Vigilance
- Recruitment companies also want to protect their job seekers and clients as repeat business is critical to the future of their business. This means recruiters will take extra steps to ensure jobs, companies, and information is genuine and correct. Genuine companies won’t mind job seekers checking the information. This means job seekers can and should contact recruitment companies by landline to follow up enquiries and to check details they have been given are correct. A consequence of the growth in job scams is the volume of advice urging job seekers to meet potential employers / recruiters. Indeed, reputable recruiters will want to build the relationship with the job seeker, this means face-to-face or Skype interviews, whereas the majority of fraudsters keep the relationship purely over email. As a result, Recruitment Agency Now claims this actually boosts the reputation of reputable recruiters who are keen to build a relationship with the job seeker. Recruitment Agency Now make the point that the old-fashioned skill of relationship building will help build the reputation of the industry and minimise the possibility of job fraud. Job seekers need to be confident in checking the information, both online and by phone, and the genuine companies really won’t mind.
Do these ways to avoid job scams help? Please send your thoughts and comments to us via the SAFERjobs website. Later this year SAFERjobs will also be publishing their “Seven Sins of Job Seeking”, a quick guide for all job seekers to help avoid fake jobs during their job search.