Long gone are the days when a candidate could make a phone call to talk to a recruiter as a first point of contact or (can you imagine?) show up unannounced at the business location to apply for an advertised opening.
From entry-level to executive roles, the job search is now conducted online and the application process has morphed into a major time saver for candidates and recruiters alike. Still, it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows: with digital expedience comes elevated risk for both job seekers and employers. How? Let’s start by defining the two-headed beast making its way into the recruitment landscape:
What is Recruitment Fraud?
Recruitment fraud is an intricate, intentional scam devised by impostors posing as recruiters or representatives of a company or business, promoting fake job opportunities to job seekers. The scam is conducted through online communication, oftentimes involving fake websites and spoofed emails cleverly designed to fool its intended recipient: the job seeker. Fraudulent tactics generally involve:
- Prying for personal information from a candidate early in the process (an identity theft goldmine!). Think about it: if, throughout the process, suspicions escalate and the candidate decides to terminate contact with the fraudster, they likely may have already divulged personal information that can be exploited.
- Hiring candidates via a chatroom (more on that below) or through email based on very limited, rudimentary details garnered from an “interview.” Reputable companies don’t operate this way, and no hiring decision is made solely from online conversation without someone ever having spoken to the candidate.
- Requesting a “recruiting fee,” “processing fee” or other financial transaction from their victim. Additional tactics include:
- Requesting your checking account info since your paycheck is direct-deposit only.
- Sending the lucky new hire a check to cover equipment expenses for your work-from-home Admin job that pays $27 an hour. Red flag alert: that translates to $56,160 annual salary for full-time employment, and that's higher than the average salary for a paralegal.
- Instructing the candidate to “deposit the check, send us $100 to cover our recruiter fee and you keep the rest as your first week’s paycheck” … Spoiler alert: your bank doesn’t care that you’ve been scammed. They’ll also hit you with (on average) a $35 NSF fee for the bad check.
Depending where the candidate is in the communication timeline, a shrewd fraudster is all about the ambush; they want to “get in and out” as quickly as possible, with as much loot (personal and financial information) as they can score.
How recruitment fraud hurts job seekers.
In an era of increasing transparency online, why does recruitment fraud thrive? Why do otherwise intelligent people fall prey to the scam? By nature, people are generally honest and trusting. And a scammer’s sole focus is to exploit that trust. They prey on vulnerability and desperation; thus, the unemployed are a perfect target.
Consider the fact that when candidates post a resume on Indeed and LinkedIn, among other sites, their contact information is publicly available—to legitimate employers and scammers alike. Insidious fraudsters have been known to go as far as impersonating real people at actual businesses, stealing their photo and name from their LinkedIn or Indeed profile (public information, right?) and using it to create a fake profile in Google Hangouts to conduct sham interviews. Want to see how it works in action? Here’s a transcript of a sham interview shared by The Daily Scam, whose website has an entire section devoted to employment scams.
How recruitment fraud affects employers.
If your business, or someone personally within your organization, has fallen victim to an employment scam, it's not your fault. But it’s still your brand. So, what can you do to mitigate damage and protect your business moving forward?
- Ensure that your recruiters are conducting communication with potential candidates via company accounts only; no personal email (Gmail address is a dead giveaway of a scam), no Google Hangouts for interviews and definitely no promise of employment without thorough candidate vetting.
- Include a statement on your career site that acknowledges and addresses recruitment fraud. Your statement can appear as a stand-alone page or within highly trafficked areas of your career site, such as the home page and within your job descriptions.
Better Business Bureau (select “Employment” in the “Scam Type” drop-down menu)
Federal Trade Commission (Consumer Information addressing job scams)
Department of Homeland Security (tips to avoid Social Engineering and Phishing attacks)