Protecting Yourself Against Employment Scams

With nearly half of all Canadians being targeted by fraudulent activity last year, it’s not surprising that scammers have taken to preying on job seekers in an already difficult market. It’s more important now than ever to be able to recognize and protect yourself from potential scams and fraud.

As AI becomes more readily available, online and phone scams become more convincing. While the majority of us know the basics of protecting ourselves online, the technology associated with fraudulent activity is improving faster than some people can keep up. Especially during a job search, it can be tempting to assume the best when you receive an exciting opportunity or offer, but it’s important to remember that not every opportunity is legitimate. Due to the prevalence of these scams, recruitment agencies have become well-versed in identifying and weeding out suspicious offers. Here are our top tips to help protect yourself in your job search:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is

Scammers typically prey on people in vulnerable situations when identifying potential targets. Due to an unstable labour market, cost of living crisis, and difficult economic circumstances, people in active job searches can be an easy target for fraudulent activity. Scammers know that looking for work can be a tiresome and disheartening process, and by delivering too-good-to-be-true offers, they attempt to catch people who would otherwise be able to identify a scam in a moment of weakness. Remember, if someone reaches out to you with an offer for a job with extremely high pay for little work, unrealistic flexibility, job offers without an interview, or an upfront bonus without signing, it’s worth doing some extra due diligence to verify the details before engaging further.

2. Be wary of requests for money, wire transfer, or application fees

While there is some international debate about charging job application fees (and there are some places in the world where this is the norm), no one is authorized to charge a fee for job applications in British Columbia. This applies to B.C. residents and temporary foreign workers – if a company requires an application fee, it’s best to walk away. The same goes for wire transfer requests, signing fees, or charging you for credit or background checks. Reputable companies will pay overhead for the fees incurred during the hiring process, and job seekers should be wary of anyone who tries to charge them to be an employee.

3. Verify suspicious recruitment communications

We’re seeing more and more scams involving impersonating recruiters, and it’s important to be aware of the differences in communication between a real recruiter and someone pretending to be one. Most recruitment scams involve a text message about a job that you most likely didn’t apply for, but be careful – some scammers may reference a job that actually exists online, so if you have a bad feeling about something, it’s always best to verify the identity of the person you’re talking to. The majority of reputable recruiters will not send their first communication over text, and will instead message you on LinkedIn, email you from an address associated with a real firm, or call you from local number.

If you’re ever unsure if the person you’re talking to is a real recruiter, don’t be afraid to check their identity by connecting with them on LinkedIn, cross referencing the email address they’re communicating from with the URL of the agency, or simply calling or emailing the contacts listed on their agency’s website. Real recruiters are aware of the prevalence of these scams and will be happy to provide the information you request. If someone gets angry or hostile with you for wanting to validate the legitimacy of a job posting or verify their identity, it’s usually not a good sign.

4. Don’t give out personal information upfront

It’s part of the process to give out personal info during your search, but things like your social security number, copies of ID, and tax information should be withheld until you’ve met the hiring team and have a contract in front of you.

Posted by Emily Couves in Best Practices, Career Advice