HR Scams Explained

How to detect an HR scam and how to make sure that the job offer is real...

HR scams

Phishing is one of the most popular scam techniques out there as it doesn’t require much technical knowledge.

Chances are you are one of the users who received a message for a great offer or just information that your subscription to some popular service is about to expire. How about a message from your bank? Or from someone offering you a new, well-paid job?

It’s the last part we’ll be talking about here. You see, that is one of the more common scams lately, with fake human resources (HR) managers contacting users to offer job opportunities. This happens on LinkedIn, on Facebook and via email.

We have the COVID-19 pandemic to “thank” for the meteoric rise of this sort of scam. As people were losing their jobs, they became more desperate and were willing to try new things to pay the bills.

Awful scammers saw this as an opportunity, targeting job hunters from many sectors of the economy that were affected by the pandemic. In today’s article, we’ll explain this scam and what you can do to stay safe.

HR impersonation scams explained

HR impersonation scams are a subgroup of impersonation scams that have been around for a long time. Instead of presenting themselves as rich heirs from the Middle East or parts of Africa, these scammers present themselves as HR directors looking for new hires.

Also, these sorts of scams have expanded past emails and permeated into social and 1:1 messaging mediums where scammers can more easily impersonate corporate recruiters. The end goal of all these efforts is to get targets to share confidential information.

HR impersonation scams are spread across industries, though lately we’ve seen many involving tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Scammers use the branding of these companies on fake social media profiles to legitimize their conversations with their targets after which they move to the second phase, requesting personal information that could ultimately be used for the benefit of the scammer.

Why go for job hunters?

Scammers are targeting all kinds of people, but during the pandemic – they saw an “opening” for job hunters. After all, at one point, there were millions of unemployed people representing a huge opportunity for scammers. Also, with the pandemic, telework became a new normal and some companies were employing remote workers — and that trend continued to this day.

How to avoid HR scams?

The first rule, which is hard to follow, is – don’t get too excited. If the offer sounds too good to be true, chances are that is indeed the case. Here are some signs to watch out for:

LinkedIn profile
A legitimate recruiter will have a well-established LinkedIn profile, with a photo and some activity on it. Be skeptical of a recruiter with a new LinkedIn profile and with less than 500 connections.

It’s all about details
Real recruiters tend to provide adequate information on the role they’re hiring for. You should always ask for the link to the posting on the company’s job board. If there isn’t one, it’s a red flag.

Use email for communication
Most recruiters tend to keep the interaction on LinkedIn brief and instead request to communicate through email. Then, once you get an email from the recruiter, make sure it’s a legitimate business email address rather than the personal one (i.e. @gmail.com or @yahoo.com).

Instant messaging is not the solution
We’ve heard stories of fake recruiters demanding to move communication to an instant messaging app like Telegram or Signal. It’s another red flag as such apps are seldom used for hiring purposes in today’s companies, especially the big ones. Again, this sort of communication typically goes through email.

Don’t provide your personal information
This is important. Under no circumstances should you provide a recruiter with personal information or any form of payment during the hiring process. If they ask for it, feel free to stop the communication.

At the end of the day, you should use your best judgment to determine whether some recruiter is legit or not. We’ve shared some tips to help you spot the fake ones (scammers) and it is our belief that they will help you stay safe(r) online. Good luck! 😉