Tribune Print Share Text

Phishing scam targets job seekers

Created date

August 24th, 2017
Digital tablet with the word "phishing" on the screen

Technology has upturned the traditional job interview. More and more, companies are relying on video communications technology such as Skype or FaceTime to interview potential employees. These remote video interviews are a great way to save time and make the experience more convenient for both the interviewer and the interviewee. 

However, the quick and easy nature of video call platforms is also great for scammers. Think about it. It would take a major operation to set up a fake office or company headquarters, but with the limited view seen in a Skype call, it is easy to set up a legitimate-looking place of business. This is why you should be wary of any random, unsolicited offer of potential employment—especially if that offer involves nothing more than a video chat.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Association (FINRA) recently sent out an alert warning job seekers that scammers are fraudulently misrepresenting themselves as legitimate businesses in search of new hires. Ironically, one of the businesses they have claimed to represent is FINRA. 

The video interview

Job seekers who accept the opportunity to do a video interview may find that after a few preliminary questions, the interview goes in an altogether inappropriate direction with the interviewer asking for personal or financial information. Scammers know that job interviews are stressful, and they take advantage of that fact by “phishing” for information when the interviewee’s guard is down. 

They may ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card accounts. Never give out this information unless you are certain that the situation is legitimate. If you have only interacted with the company remotely, ask for an on-site visit. 

Call the company’s human resources department to double-check that the person who contacted you is an actual employee or representative of the company. In the FINRA job scam, the “recruiter” used the name of a former CEO who had retired long ago. A simple phone call to the headquarters or even an Internet search would have quickly shown that the recruiter was a phony.

“Scammers attempting to obtain sensitive personal financial information are becoming ever more sophisticated in their tactics, manipulating moments of trust such as a job interview while simultaneously turning trusted tools such as online video platforms into potential weapons of fraud,” says Gerri Walsh, FINRA’s senior vice president of investor education. “It is important for consumers to know that legitimate companies and employers will not ask you to provide confidential information through nonsecure means—and you should never do so unless you are certain the interview is legitimate.”

Everyone wants to move up in the world, and there is nothing more flattering than knowing an employer thinks you have something great to offer. But don’t let flattery cloud your good judgment. Keep your focus and do your homework because scammers won’t think twice before stealing your information and your identity.