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This article was published on August 9, 2022

5 ways to identify job phishing schemes

Something smells phishy...

5 ways to identify job phishing schemes

Have you ever been catfished? Maybe you’ve met someone on a dating app and decided to go for a coffee or a drink, but when you showed up, the person looked nothing like their profile pictures. Unfortunately, this kind of deception is such a part of dating in 2022 that we’ve almost come to accept it.

But that kind of deceit would never happen in a professional setting… would it?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Madbird job scam that hit the news back in February. Madbird was advertised as a British-based design agency run by a charismatic and energetic leader, “Ali Ayad.”

Ayad hired an impressive team of creatives, actively poached designers from other companies, frequently posted on LinkedIn, sent inspirational team updates, and continuously talked about the company’s expansion and growth.

The only problem was, no one was getting paid. Employees were all hired remotely. They were also working on a commission-only basis during their six-month probation. Ayad took advantage of the dwindling job market for creatives during the pandemic, and hundreds of people fell for the scam. When the truth came out, everyone was left out of pocket and unemployed.

With the rise in remote working and the end of bricks and mortar offices, it’s possible that job fishing is going to become more and more common. Here’s how to make sure an employer is legitimate before you even apply for a job.

Go with your gut

This is the number one rule. If a potential career is offering you €20k over your current salary, three months of vacation per year, and a brand new car, it’s probably too good to be true.

It’s a good idea to compare the job spec to similar roles on places like Indeed or the House of Talent Job Board. Do some research to see what kind of perks and benefits other companies are offering. If this job is miles ahead of the rest, you need to figure out why. Always go with your gut.

Question vague salaries

This is a big red flag. Bigger companies will often give a salary range in their job specs — this helps them to attract the best candidates. Plus it helps job seekers evaluate the role’s seniority.

While some companies will simply state “salary dependent on experience,” they should be willing to share this with you during the initial interview. If they start to act coy or brush you off, and it’s proving difficult to get a straight answer, they’re either very inexperienced or its a scam. Either way, proceed with caution.

Do a company deep dive

This step is important. We now have more information than ever before right at our fingertips. Google the company or employer. Google the text of the job spec too — has it been copied from another company? Visit the company website. Also check Glassdoor, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t forget to search hashtags too.

Take a note of anything negative you find such as bad reviews or disgruntled employees. While no company is perfect, if there is a lot of negative information online, then you can use this to inform your next steps.

Get personal

If you’re dealing with someone in HR or a potential manager, you need to check them out too. Visit their social media, check out their endorsements, see who they interact with, and find out where they worked previously if possible.

You should also pay close attention to any communications that you have with them. Make sure they’re using a company email address. They should also seem professional in their dealings with you: if lots of words are misspelled or the punctuation is off, or all communication is happening out of office hours, this could be a sign something’s not right.

Don’t pay them

This might seem completely obvious, but many people fall for these types of scams. Some fake companies claim that you need to invest money into your work before you can get started. Sometimes this is disguised as funds that are required for training or personal development.

This is a huge no-no. After all, your company is supposed to be paying you, not the other way round. Genuine, established companies will invest in you, it’s as simple as that.

Ready to take the next steps in your job hunt? Discover thousands of open roles on the House of Talent Job Board

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