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Policy publications - Employment & Skills Blog

Defeating the job scammers

31 Aug 2018

man at laptopSpeaking at the launch of the Taylor review into modern employment practices last summer, the Prime Minister said that “with good work can come dignity and a sense of self-worth. It can promote good mental and physical health, and emotional well-being.” This is something that IoD members know all about, employing several million people between them. 

In many ways, this is a good time to be looking for work. The employment levels and job vacancies are both a record high. But while this means that getting a job, or changing roles, should be the easiest it has been in several years, there is one dark cloud marring this sunny picture. 

Recruitment companies and job seekers are increasingly struggling with the issue of job scams, with research showing that 1 in 10 job seekers have been a victim of labour market exploitation. While the internet has made searching for jobs much easier, it also creates an increased opportunity for scamming of both job seekers and recruiters. 

Job seekers are being falsely offered guaranteed ways to make fast money or high-paying jobs that don’t exist. Fraudsters have been promising dream jobs but instead tricking job-hunters into handing over hundreds of pounds for bogus training or certificates. 

Search for news stories, and you will find cases like that of Angelique Norman, who was left unable to pay her rent or feed her children after paying a conman £150 and giving up her job for an office administrator position that didn’t exist. 

Those looking for employment need to be wary and protect themselves from employment scams including fake jobs, CV writing scams, money laundering and premium rate phone scams, which can see job seekers losing hundreds of pounds. If the fraudulent activity goes unreported, job seekers may risk having their bank account suspended, and the scammers will also have their personal details which could be used in identify theft. 

Businesses can also become victims of job scams. Fraudsters may use real businesses to add legitimacy to a fake job post, potentially damaging a business’s reputation and unnecessarily consuming an employer’s time. 

What can we do about it?

One initiative to tackle the problem comes from SAFERjobs, a non-profit organisation aiming to tackle the issue of labour market exploitation, especially focusing on recruitment supply chains. The charity was originally set up by the Metropolitan Police and has cross-government support.

SAFERjobs provides a free service to workers, allowing them to report any suspected fraud, ask for advice, check the legitimacy of jobs and access job boards and legitimate recruitment companies. They also allow organisations that use recruitment companies or job posting websites to report abuse and get advice. 

By using reputable job boards and recruitment companies that partner with SAFERjobs, job seekers can find genuine advertisements and avoid scams. For employers, SAFERjobs can be a resource to help them choose the right recruitment support. Businesses can also help to protect their reputations, and the reputation of business more broadly, by reporting issues such as incidences of company names being used in fake recruitment scams and directing victims to SAFERjobs. 

The mission of SAFERjobs is “to support everyone engaged in the job market from work seekers to recruiters to make job searching a safer experience for all.” Recruitment can be a difficult task at the best of times, and getting the right staff is essential to a company’s success. Businesses, government and job seekers must all work together to remove the fraud and deception from recruitment, so everyone can focus on creating the ‘good work’ the Prime Minister was talking about.   

For more information please visit the SAFERjobs website. 


Evangeline Hanshaw, Policy Intern, IoD

Evangeline is currently studying for a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Politics at the University of Surrey.

As a Policy Intern at the IoD she supports policy colleagues in report research and writing. Previously, she completed a placement year as a Marketing Executive, working on various direct marketing campaigns for a leading data security company, Egress Software Technologies.

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