Online job databases attracting cyber fraud
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 02:03
With unemployment up and the economy in decline, many people are turning to the Internet in a desperate job-seeking endeavor. Craigslist.org receives more than 24 million new job listings each year. Monster.com reported over 232 million job searches in the last month alone. That means for these job search websites and others similar, business is booming, but not necessarily for anyone else.
Employer Relations Specialist Krystal Hicks of the UNH Advising and Career center said she is seeing more and more people applying for jobs online as opposed to networking and meeting employers in person, and the results are dismal.
“It’s really frustrating for me when people tell me that they’ve been applying for jobs online and nothing has turned up,” Hicks said. “Essentially, if you’re going to job hunt online you need to remember that you’re spending the majority of your time on the resource that produces the least amount of results.”
There are hundreds of thousands of job offers being made on the Internet. Some “employers” will even go the extra mile to make life easier for their potential employees by directly contacting them with an offer via email. But according to Hicks, less than 20 percent of legitimate job openings are ever posted on the web. That means a great deal of those alleged great offers are potential employment scams.
“I recently received an online offer from an internship recruiter,” UNH sophomore Tyler Collins said. “It sounded appealing, but I talked to one of my friends who fell for a similar offer. He made little to no money and wasted weeks of his time.”
Too-good-to-be-true job opportunities are the best-case scenario when it comes to job scams. The rise of online job searches comes with the increase of fraudulent offers, in which victims are being manipulated into sharing personal information such as social security and credit card numbers. While some of these cyber-scammers are targeting individuals through email, many of them are dropping the line to lure in desperate job seekers on sites such as Monster.com and Craigslist.
The most common scams involve an appealing job offer that requires the prospective employee to pay for credit reports and background checks – a seemingly obvious enough red flag. But for someone such as the typical college student, providing a social security or banking number for a part-time job W2 form is habit, and doing the same thing for an online offer seems legitimate. The result? Forged credit lines and identity theft.
Monster Customer Service Representative Craig Bachman said that because the company has a strong compliance team and strict terms of service agreement, job scams occurring through the website are rare in comparison to sites like Craigslist that have less stringent controls and allow employers to post ads more easily and for free. Cyber scams, however, have successfully targeted victims through Monster, and Bachman said that the possibility still exists.
“We have a really simple option to report a job offer that looks like it might be a scam,” Bachman said. “Our compliance team looks into all of those that are reported.”
According to Bachman, job hunters should keep an eye out for postings that seem unprofessional, request a fee or an unusual amount of personal information or offer a work-from-home position such as re-packaging products and sending them from one’s own home.
Most legitimate job offers will require the employee to disclose some personal information at some point, but Bachman said he urges people not to give out that kind of information until you have met with the employer in person.
When it comes to career searching in a struggling economy, most experts agree that putting yourself out there the old-fashioned way is the best option for remaining competitive.
“If you think about it, you’re one in 500 emails in an employer’s inbox and you don’t stand out that way,” Hicks said. “More than 70 percent of the jobs we get in life are through people we know.”
Hicks said that while the Internet remains an important tool in job searching, it shouldn’t be used as a crutch, and those seeking job opportunities on the Internet should err on the side of caution. She also emphasized the importance of utilizing websites such as LinkedIn and WildcatCareers for their networking opportunities.
“I beg students to make LinkedIn accounts,” Hicks said. “You can actually see who works at a company and start building a rapport, and do so with much more success than sending in some blind application online.”
Hicks is in charge of running the UNH Career Fair on Tuesday, occurring from 12 to 4 p.m. in the Whittemore Center. She said that with over 140 companies attending from all different fields, it will be the largest career fair UNH has ever had. Hicks estimates 2,000 students will attend the fair but said she hopes more will show up.
“If you’re sitting online, you’re hoping and praying that these recruiters are getting your resume, when they are actually coming to the career fair,” Hicks said. “By showing up on Tuesday, you’re taking the guess work out of the equation.”