Job listings have been posted at record rates in the past year. Businesses are opening back up and searching for employees to fill their open roles. Those hoping to find employment, however, are having difficulty landing stable positions. And while many people are diligently looking for work, especially during the holidays, cybercriminals take advantage of job seekers through phishing scams. If you want to protect yourself from malicious cybercriminals while looking for work online, it’s important to learn how to avoid job application phishing scams. 

What is Phishing?

One of the most popular varieties of social engineering attacks is called phishing. In a phishing scam, cybercriminals use fraudulent messages or websites to trick victims into giving away their personal information. Many instances of phishing also involve attackers deploying malicious bots or other software onto their victim’s devices to obtain data. 

Cybercriminals use the information they gather from phishing scams to commit theft and fraud, leading to serious financial losses for victims. Scammers have begun developing new ways to convince people to share their private data, including job application phishing scams. These attacks are done through popular job boards, false company websites, and even direct emails. 

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Common Phishing Scams on Job Posting Sites

Keep an eye out for common types of phishing scams that cybercriminals use on job boards and employment websites. Certain scams routinely appear on job posting sites, including: 

  • Pyramid schemes or pyramid marketing.
  • Work-from-home roles promising weekly pay.
  • Data entry positions with higher-than-average salaries.
  • Re-shipping, i.e. the illegal practice of postal forwarding.

Of course, cybercriminals develop new methods of phishing every day. Job search scams tend to change depending on trends. For example, work-from-home scams were especially popular in the middle of 2020 due to the rise of employees in quarantine. Although you can’t predict the next job application scam, you can learn to spot one and protect yourself moving forward.

How to Spot a Job Scam

Certain job board scams are easy to spot. Misspelled words and broken images on the listing for the role are usually a red flag for a fake company. However, there are times when it isn’t as easy to identify a job application scam. Here are some of the telltale signs that you might be reading a fake job advertisement:

  • The description of the job is vague. 
  • The initial job offer was unsolicited.
  • The job listing promises fast cash and immediate hiring. 
  • The company doesn’t have their own website or social media.
  • There are no results on any search engines for the company.
  • The company requires you to purchase something from them before starting the job.
  • The company urgently pushes candidates towards accepting the job immediately.

This is only a sample of the different ways that you can identify a potential job scam. If there is a point in the application process where you feel uncomfortable providing information to a company, trust your instincts. The scammers behind job application phishing attacks are always refining and updating their tactics, and it’s important to stay safe. Never give away your sensitive data over the Internet unless you’re sure it’ll be sent safely to a trustworthy recipient. 

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How to Avoid Job Fraud

One of the best ways to protect your private information is by limiting the data you share on the Internet. Job application phishing scams are dangerous primarily because many job applications ask for highly personal data. Many prospective candidates are eager to get a job, so they rush through the application process to quickly submit it. As a result, some applicants don’t think twice about giving away information like their address, contact information, or SSN. 

To avoid fraud and phishing scams, it’s important to be critical of the data that you share with potential employers. Some cybercriminals will create fake sites that resemble the application used by legitimate companies. If you feel uncomfortable with aspects of the application process, contact your recruiter or the hiring manager at the company. They can help you determine the next steps and ensure that they receive your information securely.

Another way to protect yourself is by conducting thorough background research on the company where you are submitting your application. When you find a job listing on a public job board or networking site, always investigate further. This includes reading reviews for the products or services they offer, as well as details on the company itself. 

If the company has a website that looks unfinished, unprofessional, or vague, there is a chance it could be a scam. Likewise, if you find no other information on the company, it may be unsafe to move forward with an application. Ultimately, your goal should be to keep your private information safe and secure while looking for a new job online. 

Secure Your Data with a Reliable VPN

Whether you’re on a job posting website or somewhere else on the Internet, you need to guarantee that your information is safe. With a secure VPN, you can protect your data from prying eyes, cybercriminals, and other risks. PrivadoVPN gives you unlimited monthly VPN data to ensure that your devices never go unprotected. Plus, with 10 simultaneous connections on unlimited devices, you can feel safe knowing your entire household is secure. 

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