If you’re looking for a new job online, be careful. The FBI is warning(Opens in a new window) that scammers are posting fake job listings using the names of real companies to try to dupe applicants into handing over sensitive information. 

The scheme exploits how companies post job listings across a variety of recruiting websites. The fraudsters will do the same by posting spoofed job listings. 

The FBI didn’t name the affected job recruitment platforms, but it said in one case the site allowed anyone to post a job, including on official company pages, without user verification. “Those postings would appear alongside legitimate jobs posted by the business, making it difficult for applicants and the spoofed company to discern which job posting was real and which one was fraudulent,” the agency added.

The job posting screen for LinkedIn.


The job posting screen for LinkedIn.

The FBI might be referring to a vulnerability at LinkedIn, which allowed anyone —including unaffiliated users—to post a job listing on behalf of a company, according(Opens in a new window) to BleepingComputer. LinkedIn seems to have since fixed the flaw by requiring job posters to verify the listing through an email address registered with the employer. 

The FBI adds that scammers will also replicate legitimate job postings by using the same logos, content, and HR employee names, but change the contact details. The fraudsters will then circulate the job listings across other networking sites.

It’s also easy for job hunters to fall for the scheme since it’s customary to provide personal information to an employer during the application process and when the job has been secured. In the wrong hands, the same information can be used to commit identity theft. The FBI also noted the scammers behind the scheme can even try to trick job applicants into sending over money or credit card information before an offer has been made—a huge red flag.

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“​​Legitimate companies will ask for PII (personal identifying information) and bank account information for payroll purposes AFTER hiring employees,” the FBI added. “This information is safer to give in-person. If in-person contact is not possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, especially if the company has a directory against which to compare employee photos.”

“Since early 2019, the average reported loss from this scheme is nearly $3,000 per victim, and many victims have also reported that the scheme negatively affected their credit scores,” the FBI added. To protect yourself, the FBI recommends first verifying a job listing is legit by visiting the employer’s official hiring page or by contacting the employer’s HR office.  

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