It may surprise many of us to learn that scams against job seekers are becoming increasingly prevalent, with Government Ministers estimating that up to 10% of jobseekers may have fallen victim to a scam. Being aware of some of the most common forms of job-seeking fraud will help you to be prepared – and hopefully enable you to protect yourself, so you can have a safer, more secure job search experience.

As with most scams, the fraudsters can often appear highly credible. They may put undue pressure on you to act urgently or may have found information about you on a social media site to pretend they know who you are.

There are many different types of employment fraud out there, but here are three common types to be aware of:

  • Fake job offers – advising that the individual needs to pay for security checks, online training, visas, or insurance upfront
  • Requesting you to call a premium rate phone number for an interview – racking up hundreds of pounds of call charges when there is no interview or vacancy
  • Work-from-home scams – conning people into money laundering.

So how do you know what’s real and what’s not? Ultimately, you have to trust your instincts and if something doesn’t feel right after you’ve done your research, then it’s probably not worth taking the risk. This can be easier said than done, so to help get you started, here are eight golden rules to help you stay safe whilst job hunting.

1. Never pay any money up front

This is one of the most common forms of job fraud where you are asked to pay upfront for police checks, visas, or training or admin fees.

2. Never call a company for an interview

Most employers will want to call you as they typically prefer not to give out their number. By calling a number you don’t know, you can potentially expose yourself to the possibility of inadvertently calling a premium rate phone number as part of a scam.

3. Things that sound too good to be true, usually are

Unsolicited emails or job adverts offering unrealistic or highly attractive cash rewards for minimal effort should be approached with extreme caution. Many such postings reference working from home and some may even request candidates to supply their bank or passport details.

4. Never give out personal details that are not relevant to an application process

Never provide anyone with your bank details until you have been through the interview process, met the team face to face, and have been offered a role. Additionally, when submitting an application form or completing a CV, you’re not legally required to provide information such as your date of birth, National Insurance number, or a scan of your passport until you formally take up employment.

5. Do not do everything online

At some point, an online job conversation should lead to a phone, video, or in-person interview. Never engage with recruiters or hirers who provide no personal contact (e.g. offering a job without an interview).

6. Always research the company the job is with

Check landline telephone numbers and email addresses to confirm the job and company are real, and use social media, review sites, and other sources to find out more about the firm.

7. Check spelling and grammar

Many online employment scams originate from outside the UK and can contain poor spelling and grammar. If an email or job description contains obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or unusual turns of phrase (such as ‘Resumé’ instead of ‘CV’), be very cautious.

8. If in doubt, don’t take the risk

Like anything on the internet, applying for jobs online should be carried out with a degree of caution and scepticism. Always make sure you are 100% comfortable with anything before proceeding.

Stay safe

While these rules apply to job-seeking both online, offline, and across any website or medium, if you’re ever suspicious about any job advert or contact related to Rest Less, please email us at [email protected] and we will investigate as a matter of priority, even if it’s just so you can be 100% sure before taking any action.

For any other questions relating to job or employment-related fraud, or for further information on types of scams or to report a scam, we would recommend visiting the website Safer Jobs, which is a non-profit organisation created by the Metropolitan Police to raise awareness of, and to combat, job and employment-related fraud.

Did you find this article helpful? Have you or a friend or family member been affected by an employment-related scam? Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum or leave a comment below.

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