Beware of fake online job advertisers

By Staff Writer
According to Statistics South Africa, unemployment was at approximately 25% in 2014. With the internet and social media becoming so popular, many people look for and apply for jobs online. Some jobseekers are really desperate and criminals are hell-bent on taking advantage of that. But how do you identify the legitimate job advertisements from the fake ones?
 
Gumtree South Africa (SA) noted: “Unscrupulous criminals are quick to take advantage of desperate job seekers by placing fake job adverts, demanding fees for job placement or contacting them with fake offers via social media.”
 
Claire Cobbledick, head of marketing at Gumtree SA, highlighted that many of the false job adverts appear to be legitimate. It is therefore important to do some research before submitting your details for the position being advertised.
 
What to watch out for when applying for jobs online
 
Cobbledick said: “If the company does not reveal their name in the advert (as many don’t), send a very polite email requesting further details about the position and the business, stating that you are interested and would like to know a bit more. Make sure that the address and phone numbers exist.”
 
There are several ways you can confirm this information. A search on Google Maps will indicate whether or not the address provided is real, as well as what is in the area.
 
If you are really interested in the position and want to speak to someone from the company, you can always phone the number provided and see who answers the phone. Depending on how the phone is answered, it can give an indication of whether the employer that is advertising is legitimate. It will also give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
 
Online job hunting resources, such as Gumtree Job Tips, Careers24 and CareerJunction.co.za, can also help you when looking for a job. Cobbledick pointed out: “The more educated you are about the process, the more adept you will be at spotting when something isn’t as it’s supposed to be.”
 
When job hunting it is important not to reveal too much information about yourself, as you do not know who will have access to your information. Provide a contact number and email address where potential employers can reach you, but no other personal information.
 
“Advertisers that ask for information such as a copy of your ID, your banking details, your credit card number and other personal details without so much as an interview are dubious,” said Cobbledick.
 
Another trick to watch out for would be for a potential employer requiring you to pay for ‘training material’. Cobbledick stressed that when an employer says that they will offer the job on condition of you paying for ‘training material’, it should be a warning sign.
 
Cobbledick advised job seekers who come across unscrupulous advertisers on [our] site should immediately report it to Gumtree.” By reporting the advertiser, Gumtree will be able to remove and block them from the website, preventing them from continuing with the scam.
 
Take your time when applying to for a job. You need to read the advert carefully and make sure that you understand everything that will be required of the position that you are applying for.
 
Researching the company is also a good idea, as it will allow you to respond to the job advertisement in a more individual manner, addressing the wants and needs of the company personally, illustrating that you have an understanding of the company.
 
Some women who are seeking jobs via online platforms have also been victims of harassment, according to Gumtree, as men posing as employers demand illicit photographs of the women applying for the supposed job.
 
Cobbledick warned that women should be weary of advertisers who require a photograph with your CV. “Even if the job is based on physical appearance, [such as] professional modelling, a professional would require a portfolio and a face-to-face. I’d be wary of advertisers looking for administrative assistants or a receptionist that insists on photos.”
 
Some other warning signs include: many spelling errors in the documentation that is sent to you, they are willing to hire you without having met you face-to-face or interviewing you, the job description doesn’t make mention of the responsibilities of the position, and the emails come from a Gmail or other Internet-based email account, and not an official company email account.
 
Your safety should always be a priority. If something about the job or the situation does not feel right, don’t go any further in the application process.
 
Cobbledick emphasised: “You are under no obligation to respond to messages. There are thousands of legitimate job opportunities and adverts to choose from. It’s tough, but wait for the right one to come along.”

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