Job Searching

Job searching online has become by far the most popular method of finding employment. Searching for the type of job you want is fast and easy, and you can see new jobs as soon as employers and agencies post them. However, like all online activity, job hunting carries certain risks which you need to be aware of and take precautions against, in order to stay safe. This has been exacerbated since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought with it massive changes in the employment market and an increase in fraud exploiting the situation.

The risks

  • Fictitious job posts leading to fraud or identity theft.
  • Phishing emails enticing you to visit fraudulent websites.
  • Premium rate telephone scams tricking people into believing it’s a job interview.
  • Fraudulent work at home schemes where you are not reimbursed for work done, or liable for expenses incurred such as postage and phone calls.
  • Being tricked into paying money up front in exchange for the possibility of employment.
  • Being tricked into paying money up front for non-existent DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) police checks or other security checks.
  • CV writing scams where you are asked to pay to improve your CV in order to get a job.
  • Unwitting participation in criminal activity such as money muling or money laundering.
  • Divulging personal or financial information in online application forms and profiles.
  • Divulging personal or financial information on your CV.
  • Criminals hacking into your account.
  • Unwittingly notifying your current employer that you are looking for a new job.
  • Your personal safety being compromised by bogus potential employers.
  • Exposure to viruses and spyware.

Safe job site registration

  • When registering on a job site, first ensure that the site is reputable and has a physical address and landline phone number.
  • Most job sites offer flexibility regarding whether you keep your profile ‘public’, ‘confidential’ or ‘private’ (non-searchable). Reputable sites will explain the difference, and you should choose the option most suitable for you.
  • Never divulge private information such as your National Insurance number, driver’s licence number, bank account information, credit card information, passport number or date of birth.
  • Select and use a safe password and never reveal it to anybody.

Safe CVs

Never divulge private information such as your National Insurance number, driver’s licence number, bank account information, credit card information, passport number or date of birth.

Avoiding money laundering

Some money laundering activities are perpetrated via criminals using other people’s personal bank accounts to move stolen money. Never divulge personal bank account details until you have been successful in your application, and are satisfied that your employer is legitimate.

Avoiding scams

If you receive an email claiming to be from a potential employer who has seen your CV on a job site, take care when clicking on links and ensure they go to a legitimate job posting.

Work at home schemes

Work at home schemes are a favourite vehicle for fraudsters. Be particularly wary of envelope-stuffing, assembly work and medical billing or claims processing work. Legitimate work-at-home employers should be willing and able to answer a variety of questions about their programmes. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What tasks your will have to perform (ask the potential employer to list every step of the job).
  • Whether you will be paid a salary, or your pay be based on commission.
  • Who you will be paid by.
  • When you will receive your first payment.

Of course, many, many more people are working at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in many cases, this is likely to become the norm. This type of home working is different from that described above, but you should still check and double-check the legitimacy of the employer.

Other information

  • Ensure that a potential employer is genuine before meeting for an interview, to ensure that your personal safety is not threatened.
  • Be wary of approaches for jobs on social media sites where you have a profile.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.
  • See the SAFERjobs website ( for further advice on how to stay safe in the job search.

If you’ve experienced cybercrime, you can contact the charity Victim Support for free and confidential support and information.



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A Glossary of terms used in this article:

Identity theft

The crime of impersonating someone – by using their private information – for financial gain.


The process of concealing the source of money obtained illegally, by carrying out financial transactions or operating fake businesses in order to camouflage the illegal source.


An attempt at identity theft in which criminals lead users to a counterfeit website in the hope that they will disclose private information such as user names or passwords.

Premium rate

A telephone number, typically prefixed by 09, which is very expensive when dialled. Often connected with scams.


A list of personal details revealed by users of social networking, gaming, dating and other websites. Profiles may normally be configured to be public or private.