Job scams - five red flags you need to be aware of

Many people are desperate to find a job which also leaves them vulnerable to job scams. Picture: Pexels

Many people are desperate to find a job which also leaves them vulnerable to job scams. Picture: Pexels

Published Feb 12, 2024


The online job market offers unprecedented access to job opportunities, but it also opens up avenues for cyber criminals to exploit people that are looking for work, according to Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa.

South Africa has a large number of unemployed people who are desperate to find a job that could help them make ends meet, making them vulnerable to job scams.

Van Vlaanderen said that being vigilant about potential red flags and having a strong grasp of digital security best practices is crucial at the very outset of the job search process.

To protect themselves from potential job scams, people need to ensure that their LinkedIn profile and other job-seeking platforms have strong privacy settings. This means that people need to have strong, unique passwords for their profiles and they need to be mindful of the personal information that they are sharing publicly.

What are the red flags of job scams?

A key aspect of a safe job hunt is recognising warning signs. Here is a look at the warning signs of job scams:

Upfront fees: Charging a person who is looking for a job, a fee in order to be placed in a job is prohibited, according to the Skills Development Act. Any upfront fees to be represented by a recruiter is also unlawful.

Deceptive tactics: Job scams will replicate job descriptions from legitimate companies, use authentic company logos, and even pose as company recruiters or HR staff.

Elaborate schemes: Scammers might create counterfeit websites or LinkedIn pages and mimic official company pages with the aim of attracting vulnerable job-seekers.

Too good to be true: Offers which promise high rewards for minimal effort, vague job descriptions, or requests for payment to secure an interview are glaring red flags.

Information: If a job offer or recruiter seems to evade direct questions or pressures you for personal information too early in the job process, it's a sign to proceed with caution.

How to stay safe while searching for your dream job

– Do extensive research on potential employers and verify job offers through multiple, different sources.

– Make use of LinkedIn’s privacy and security settings to control the visibility of your profile.

– Be cautious with the amount personal information that you share during the initial phases of job hunting. This means that your digital CV should not include your ID number.

– Legitimate companies will not ask for your financial details for the purposes of a credit check. Never provide your banking login details to anyone or respond to SMS messages that request your one-time pin (OTP).

– Report any suspicious activities or profiles to the platform administrators for further investigation.

– Trust your instincts and remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam. If you come across any job scams or illegal employment activities, cut all communication immediately.

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