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Tech Matters: How to spot job board scams and avoid identity theft

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 20, 2024

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Leslie Meredith

It’s really tough to find a job right now despite low unemployment and a high number of job openings in some industries. But with a lingering fear of recession, employers are uncertain about the future and hesitant to overspend on new hires. They don’t want to add to their head count only to have to lay off people later in the year.

And in some industries, like tech, the layoffs of 2022 and 2023 are continuing into 2024. Already this year, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and many smaller companies have let employees go. So it’s no surprise that job boards are seeing a continuation of high usage as well. Job seekers are sending hundreds of resumes but the odds are not in their favor. According to Glassdoor, every job ad posted in the U.S. receives on average 250 resumes, 75% of resumes are rejected by filtering software and never seen by human eyes, and an average of just 3% of resumes that are sent result in an interview.

To make matters worse, not all job postings are real. According to a survey of 1,007 Americans by security firm Beyond Identity, nearly 3 in 10 job board users have fallen for a fake job posting. These popular scams not only waste the job seeker’s time but may mean a loss of funds and a breach of confidential information that is later used for identity theft.

The survey also revealed women were more likely to have been the victim of a scam than men (32% compared to 25%), and the most likely generation was millennials (27 to 42 years of age). The scam listings were not confined to obscure websites; Indeed and LinkedIn were the top job platforms where the respondents encountered fake posts.

Job board scams have much in common with other phishing techniques. In the survey, the top red flag was a listing that sounded too good to be true — a job that promised rapid wealth or high pay for minimal time or skill. Legitimate employers will not make these promises, especially in today’s job market. Don’t let the pressure of finding a job obscure your common sense.

There are other signs to look for before you submit your resume to a posting. Grammatical errors, typos and other misspellings may indicate a scam — or at the very least, a sloppy human resources process. Be wary of incomplete profiles and job descriptions. Look at the URL for the company website. Does it start with “https” where the “s” indicates a secure website? Does the URL match the company listing name? Instead of clicking on the link, search for the company and then compare the website URL from your search result with the one listed in the job posting. If they don’t match, there’s something wrong — skip this listing.

If you receive a response from your resume, it’s wise to keep the possibility of a scam in your mind. If you’re asked to pay for training, it could be a scam. Similarly, if the recruiter or employer asks for personal information such as your Social Security number, politely decline. This request could signal a scam. Survey respondents also mentioned they experienced requests for financial information, the interview took place on a chat platform, there was no sign of any other organization members, the interview was unusually short, the interviewer requested access to personal devices and accounts.

The majority of respondents who had fallen for a fake job posting reported no consequences from the experience. However, 27% said their personal data was compromised and 7% reported their identity was stolen.

A related hazard to using job boards beyond fake listings is the credentials you use for login. Beyond Identity found that among those who used personally identifiable public information in their passwords like an address or birthday, 14% had their job board accounts hacked. While this isn’t a high number, it’s a risk that’s easily avoided.

Use a secure and unique password for each account, including job boards and social media. Do not reuse a password for a similar group of accounts. If it’s available, turn on two-factor authentication that will require you to type in a one-time code texted to your phone in addition to your password. This additional step offers a leap in extra security.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


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