On the Virgin Atlantic website, visitors are warned of an employment scam currently making the rounds on the Internet. While the warning is vague, it advises prospective employees that the company will never send unsolicited job offers via email.
Virgin isn’t the only company that has had to issue such public announcements. Many others have also had their good names hijacked for various employment scams.
These kinds of things are more common than you might realize, and many modern-day job seekers have found out the hard way.
If you’re currently job searching (or planning to in the near future), take note. Internet criminals are getting more and more creative, and they’re targeting unsuspecting job seekers more frequently.
Here’s a common example of what happens:
You post your resume to an online job board. Now, scammers have your contact details and they know something important: You want a new job.
Armed with this information, they reach out via email with an “offer,” usually from a reputable company (like Virgin).
Somewhere in there, however, is a request. You either need to click a link, or send your bank account information to receive your “hiring bonus,” or submit your social security number for new hire paperwork.
At this point, what’s your next step?
The answer is simple: Delete the email. Do not click on anything. Do not reply. Never send your personal information.
Sadly, many job seekers fall victim to these kinds of scams—and it’s easy to understand why. Some of these messages are very compelling. They describe amazing jobs! And hey, maybe you applied for this job and just forgot. Or maybe the company found your resume and it’s clear you’re the right person for this dream gig.
But remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it surely is. No legitimate job offer will happen this way. No legitimate company will ever request such information via email. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve just lucked out.
Employment scams can take a number of different forms. However, the same rules always apply. To avoid becoming a victim, take these steps:
- If you decide to post your resume publically on a job board (such as Monster or CareerBuilder), remove your street address and phone number. Only include your email for contact information as this is easier for you to screen. You may even want to set up a separate email account specifically for your job search. Do not ever send personal information via email and be cautious of clicking any links contained within them.
- You can choose whether or not to include any contact information on your LinkedIn profile. Even if you don’t put anything in there, recruiters can use the LinkedIn messaging system to reach out to you. While I’ve found that LinkedIn does not produce as much spam as other job sites, it’s still important to use caution in publicizing your phone and email info.
- Never include your social security number, driver’s license number, or date of birth on your resume or LinkedIn profile, and do not provide these items via email. Also, only supply bank account information to an organization in person or through their secured company website after you’ve been hired.
Job seekers can be especially vulnerable to phishing scams, so always be skeptical. Don’t allow your desperate desire for a new job to push you into risky behavior.