How to avoid being taken in by recruitment fraud

If you’re ever tempted by an online job offer that looks too good to be true, it probably is.

A brand-new year often comes with a resolution to find a fresh start with a new role. “January is a peak time for people to start looking for a new job,” says the bank’s Strategic Fraud Analyst Andrew May. Equally, global employment network Indeed asserts that “companies tend to hire most in January and February”.

What is recruitment fraud?

While recruitment scams aren’t new, the fallout from the pandemic has seen a huge increase in remote working, says Andrew and, as ever, this is being exploited. A Fraudster impersonates either a known recruitment company or sets up their own fake recruitment business. They then post online or contact individuals with fake job opportunities in order to steal jobseekers’ personal details and money. 

Cybercriminals use social media channels such as LinkedIn to target potential victims

“People will often post their status, saying that they’re looking for a new opportunity, for example,” points out Andrew. “Fraudsters might then approach job hunters by saying they’re acting on behalf of a certain client.”

Most of the scams are financially motivated so criminals will ask for registration fees or, at the point where they tell them they’ve got the job, there’s likely to be an agency fee.

“That’s a red flag,” Andrew warns, “because genuine recruitment companies will usually get that fee from the hiring company, not from the candidates. I’d be concerned if I was being asked for money.”

Those applying for jobs abroad should be particularly cautious as victims may be asked to pay for additional expenses such as visas and accommodation. If in doubt, contact that country’s embassy to see if the information matches up.

A long-winded registration process

Another warning sign is the length of time spent on the registration process. You could be asked for a long list of personal details, and to set up your username and passwords – because that’s information they can potentially use for other scams or to sell on.

“Many of us use the same passwords across multiple platforms. So if the registration process involves setting up a password then the fraudster could use this to access a victim’s email address etc,” explains Andrew.

Personal details could be used to set up bank accounts

The individual targeted might think they’re taking those next steps to secure that potential role, but in reality they’re being taken through a registration process for opening a bank account. “The fraudster will then open an account in that individual’s name and apply for credit cards, loans or whatever it might be,” he says.

“At the end of last year the bank saw a noticeable rise in criminals trying to set up accounts in people’s names. The bank has acted fast to make sure these attempts are picked up and blocked. Customers should also be cautious when asked to provide ID documentation as part of any application process.”

Other tips to help protect you from recruitment fraud

  • Contact Companies House in order to confirm a recruiter’s contact details, including a web address. A reputable recruitment company will often belong to a trade association such as the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) or TEAM.
  • Visit genuine app stores and look at the company reviews. A large recruitment agency will have hundreds or thousands of reviews.
  • If you think you’re a victim, contact Action Fraud, and if you’ve made a payment, get in touch with the bank as soon as possible.

Watch our webinars for further advice and top tips on how to avoid falling victim to fraud.


This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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