February 2nd 2015
Hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be-graduates and school leavers will start the hunt for their dream job in the next few months as their final year of college or university comes to an end. With over two thirds of all graduates starting their search online*, we are taking this opportunity to urge them to take precautions while looking for jobs.
Figures from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau based on actual reported crimes across UK police forces show that in 2014, the most defrauded job-seekers were between the ages of 18 and 25. Those aged 23 are the most likely to fall victim to scams when job hunting online.
Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, Tony Neate, commented: “It’s a difficult time for job-seeking students as the statistics tell us that few of them will leave university or college with a job secured. The process of finding work in such a crowded environment can be frustrating and, for many, an element of desperation will set in. Unfortunately, these are exactly the conditions that scammers like to operate in. The data collected by the NFIB records over a quarter of those scammed as having experienced significant impacts on their health or financial well-being. Given the emotional distress that can accompany a graduate job-hunt, and the fact that this demographic is likely to have very little financial security, these figures are a great concern.”
Further examination of the figures shows that, on average, victims lose approximately £4,000 when they are scammed. Although scams that look to fraudulently secure £100 were the most successful, one victim reported losing £195,000. Over half (56%) of all defrauded job-seekers are based in London and 71% of job fraud scammers are suspected to be in London. Those next most at risk are living in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
There are a number of different ways in which job-seekers could be defrauded. These range from direct financial scams to misleading job descriptions. Job-seekers don’t need to lose money to become victims. The most common channels which scammers used to approach job hunters in 2014 were email (35%), websites (22%) and by phone (18%). At their core, these dangers are no different from those found in other regions of cyber-space. Scammers are banking on graduates failing to take the necessary precautions to identify the organisation they are dealing with.
Importantly, this means that fraudsters can be easily avoided once job-seekers know what to look out for.
SAFER-Jobs suggests several steps which any graduate – or any other job seeker – should take when dealing with a potential employer:
1. Never part with money – employers should pay you, not the other way round. If asked to pay for security checks, visas, training, or anything else, you should research the job, the company, and never use any associated company suggested to you without conducting independent thorough research.
2. Never take it on face value– have you received an ‘out of the blue’, ‘too good to be true’ job offer? Be sceptical and ask questions. Why and how have you been contacted, what is the job, did you apply? Be wary of any non-business, generic email address (such as hotmail and yahoo), poorly written job adverts or job descriptions, and emails or contact at unusual times of the day (unless pre-arranged).
3. Never do everything online – whilst technology is a great enabler to help people find work, at some point your job discussion should lead to an interview or a meeting. Hiring agents who keep the relationship solely on email must be treated extremely cautiously.
4. Never fail to do research – find out about the company that the job is with and do your research! Check landline telephone numbers and call the end employer to check the job exists. Use social media and sources such as Companies House and LinkedIn to dig deeper into the organisations and people you are interacting with.
5. Never phone them for an interview – premium rate phone scams are common. This is where an individual calls a pay-for number thinking it’s an interview, when actually they are paying for every minute they stay on hold. If an employer wants you to work for them, they will call you.
6. Never accept money for nothing – with money mule scams on the increase, beware of any employer promising ‘get rich quick’ or ‘earn thousands working from home’. When cheques begin arriving it is easy to be fooled into being used as a money mule.
7/ Never provide personal details– be suspicious of any requests for personal data ahead of an interview or registration meeting (if an agency). Until you have the job, keep bank details safe and only provide identity details once you have met face to face.
Tony Neate continued: “Mostly these scams can be easily avoided by entering into employment negotiations with an awareness of the threats out there. No potential employer will think less of a candidate for taking the above precautions, especially as the risks of taking their legitimacy for granted are increasing.”
Sam Diamond, Head of Brand at Gumtree.com, added: “The advice from Get Safe Online backs up exactly what we tell the millions of jobseekers who use our site. Applying for a job online is just like doing any transaction on the internet. Check that the other party is reputable and don’t hand over any money without knowing exactly what you’re getting.”
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, commented: “Jobseekers are often willing to do almost anything to obtain work; fraudsters harness this enthusiasm and manipulate their victims. If you’re looking for a job, bear in mind that not all advertised roles are genuine, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the potential employer and certainly don’t be frightened to say “no”. If you think you have been a victim of fraud or that someone is trying to defraud you, always report it to Action Fraud.”
What to look out for:
Registration information for most websites can be checked through a ‘WHOIS’ search, such as the Nominet’s WHOIS tool which shows the name and address given by the registrant for websites in the UK domain. The company is unlikely to be reputable and well-established if the website has only recently been registered, or the registrant is a named individual, particularly one who wishes to withhold his address, or declares they are “non-trading”. In such a case, you should be extremely cautious about having financial dealings.
*Research conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management https://www.i-l-m.com/About-ILM/Information-for-media/Press-releases/new-year-research