September 2022

· 3 min read

Job Scams Cost Americans Close to $68 Million in Just the First Quarter of 2022

Looking to avoid identity theft? Here’s what the FTC advises individuals and businesses to do to protect against cybercriminals.
Man working on laptop - How to Protect Yourself From a Job Scam in America | NSF

Did you know that just this past spring of 2022 alone, Americans were scammed out of $68 million because of fake business and job opportunities? These are the findings of a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That’s 20,700 people who were preyed on by scams while seeking new employment — and a third of them lost money in the fallout.

These stark facts speak volumes about how cybercriminals find highly creative ways to go after vulnerable people. Certainly, targeting job seekers who were (and are) trying to survive, revive and thrive during the paralyzing two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic is a cruel feat. The report suggests that the scams reflect white-collar criminals taking advantage of a hot job market to con job applicants out of their money and personal financial information.

Working behind the scenes to eliminate cyber fraud and boost security for companies and individuals worldwide, NSF wants to protect you from job scams with a look at how they work and tips to better protect yourself.

How it Works

  • Asking for money is a red flag. Fake job postings are one of the most common types of employment scams. Scammers contact intended victims by phone, text or email, representing themselves as real companies, or create a phony website to post job listings. Often, they pretend they are from a temp agency seeking an up-front fee to set up an interview with a hiring manager, “certification” or access to a directory of jobs.
  • Many of the scams are driven by the current growth of remote work. For example, the job posting might be for a “virtual assistant” or “quality control manager” but may actually be a sophisticated re-shipping scam.
  • Fake check scams are also on the rise.

The FTC and the FBI encourage job seekers to look out for these job scam warning signs:

  • Interviews that for some reason are not conducted in person or through a secure video call.
  • Interviews are done by teleconference app, using an email address instead of a phone number.
  • Contact made by an employer with a non-company email address and teleconference applications.
  • Asking a new hire to buy equipment, pay for a background screening or share credit card information.
  • Job postings that happen to appear on a job board but not on the hiring company’s website.
  • Recruiters or managers who don’t have job descriptions posted on the job board.

NSF cybersecurity experts offer these seven tips to help you be more proactive:

  1. Seek and search. Start with a web search for the name of the company or person contacting you, plus the word “scam” or “complaint.”
  2. Review. Search results for any complaints or reports of illegal behavior by the company.
  3. Do a Better Business Bureau search. Run the company or staffing agency through the local Better Business Bureau’s directory.
  4. Make contact. Call the employer to verify the legitimacy of the job and the application process.
  5. Don’t show them the money. Don’t send money or share personal financial information, like a credit card number, during the hiring process.
  6. Don’t get social. That applies to your Social Security number too. Employers won’t ask for your Social Security number until after you are hired.
  7. Report it. Report a job scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. And if you’re concerned about identity theft, you can get a recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov.

Want To Learn More?

Sources:

www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/ciscos-barry-yuan-adopting-zero-trust-approach

www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/busy-company-chief-information-security-officer

www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/helping-clients-ensure-information-security