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Online Job Board Scams
For many job hunters, searching online for work is the best option. Aside from the internet being a huge platform allowing for you to look through a wide variety of different jobs that may suit your skill sets and needs, looking for work on the internet is also a fantastic option for those who don't have much or any back-up savings, since you can do so for free so long as you can find an internet connection. Many online job boards allow for you to upload your CV so that employers can match you to their position. This function allows for employers to contact those that they think fit the role that they are advertising and is a great way for job seekers to get their name out to more companies. This is a great function to use as it helps you get more fingers' in more pies, but there is a drawback.
When you upload your CV onto job boards you are also uploading the information that you have provided within it. This means that employers will be able to see your e-mail address or phone number, if you have included them, but also gives the opportunity for other people to gain these details - scammers. Recently, I received an e-mail supposedly from a company who had roles in a variety of different sectors. The e-mail explained how they had seen my CV and were highly impressed with it - all I needed to do to secure that elusive interview was to fill in their application pack, which they'd included as an attachment. To my dismay, however, the 'Microsoft Word' file wouldn't open - that seemed strange. After checking it out more, the file turned out to be a .exe (an application - not a Word document at all!) and was actually a virus. Finding that you've gotten a virus is one of those stomach-dropping, panic-inducing moments at the best of times, but the slap in the face was the fact that I'd actively downloaded it myself and that, despite my excitement, there was no interview with this company that had seemed so attractive with its variety of roles.
After deleting the file, I moved on and forgot about the e-mail and the virus until the day that I decided to do some online banking. Once I hit my bank's website a strange box appeared that looked to be part of an application rather than a pop-up box from the website itself. It asked for my sign-in name and password, even though the bank's webpage behind the box was asking me the same thing, in its usual manner. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete, I could see that one of the applications running was entitled nothing other than 'ApplicationForm.exe'. Not only had I been infected with the virus that I had received, but it had also made a copy of itself within the system files. It was also now extremely clear that this virus was intended to scam people. Parting the unemployed with the money that they so need in their situation.
Scamming Those Looking For Benefits
Not only are scammers seeking you out on job boards, but they are also disguising themselves on websites - pretending that they are looking to help you out with money woes rather than being the ones that are contributing to or creating such. Fake benefits websites can be found, sometimes even in the Featured bar on Google. These are sites that look like the 'real deal', even using government logos, but then want you to fill in lots of personal and bank details for a mandatory 'credit check' before you continue.
What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
These scams are designed to hit you when you're at your worst. Suspicion is generally the last thing on the mind of somebody whose just been offered the perfect job or has recently found out that they may be entitled to governmental help whilst they are unemployed, but being slightly wary may stop you from being scammed out of the money that you already have - savings, your last paycheck, perhaps they'll even simply keep your details until you do have money hitting your account. Here are some things that you can keep an eye on:
1. Check out any company that contacts you online.
If you cannot find them or, more often, cannot seem to even find a specific company name within any e-mails that you have received, or do not remember applying for the position that you are being offered or talked to about then it's time to get your hackles up. If there are any attachments or links to other sites then ensure that you check file types, virus check them or simply don't open them until you have contacted the sender back to double check their validity.
2. Check website addresses
If the site that you are trying to access is meant to be governmental, either in the case of seeking benefits or with job offers within the government or council, ensure that the website ends in .gov. Also, if you are looking for a government website then do a proper search rather than hitting the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button, as this might take you anywhere.
3. Check phone numbers
Another way in which I have spotted potential scams is by their phone number. If you receive an e-mail, text or other contact from somebody with a phone number that you must call in order to talk to them about a position, double check that the number is a local or business one, rather than one which will cost per minute to talk to them. You can do this by searching the first few digits online, usually. Remember that if somebody is looking to hire you then they are highly unlikely to charge you to do so - they would surely have an alternate number for internal calls.
Whilst scamming the unemployed may seem like an illogical thing to do, the excitement that comes with receiving contact from employers and, in some cases, being desperate, means that people are likely to have their guard down and are thus easy targets for scammers. Unfortunately, at a time which may be scary to get through there are other things to fear under the surface - being vigilant and questioning things, however, might save you from your situation being worsened.