Social media job scams: Three ways you can avoid them

Job seekers should avoid falling victim to jobs scams because they can be used to get access to your personal information. Picture: Geralt / Pixabay

Job seekers should avoid falling victim to jobs scams because they can be used to get access to your personal information. Picture: Geralt / Pixabay

Published Jun 4, 2024


As social media becomes interlaced with the daily lives of people, cyber criminals are using it to scam people with fake job offers.

The increase in South Africa’s unemployment rate to 32.9% means that people are more susceptible to these job scams because the are desperate to find jobs.

“Cyber criminals are always evolving their tricks to match the latest trends. As job-searches on social media grow, so does the potential for recruitment-related fraud,” Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa said.

Types of recruitment scams

There are two types of recruitment scams that both have the same aim to con you into giving them money or your personal details.

The first scams involves impersonation, where fraudsters pose as legitimate recruiters and reach out to people on online platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook LinkedIn or via email.

“They may use stolen logos and profile pictures of very attractive people to lure you into thinking they’re from an HR department or recruitment firm,” Collard said.

There have also been scams where they impersonate as the Department of Employment and Labour to advertise fake job opportunities.

In these incidents, job seekers were required to pay R250 upfront for supposed “background checks” at PEP stores.

Another scam saw job seekers from the North-West province fall victim to a scheme where they paid for transportation to an interview and half-day training in Centurion, only to find out that the job offers were non-existent.

The second type of scam involves fake job postings.

Using legitimate job boards, scammers post fake job offers to get your personal information.

Collard said: “Facebook, with its broad user base, is particularly desirable for scammers. They exploit the platform’s features, like Groups and Marketplace, to post fake job listings and approach potential victims.”

You can stay safe when job hunting by looking for the indicators that the job or recruitment post could be a scam. Here they are:

Unsolicited offers and unprofessional communication

“Beware of unsolicited job offers, especially if you didn’t apply for them,” advises Collard.

According to Collard, legitimate employers follow a formal recruitment process and will not randomly reach out to job seekers on social media.

Another red flag is unprofessional communication which can include spelling errors, poor grammar, an international phone number on WhatsApp, or an email address from Gmail or Yahoo.

Remote work that pays well

Collard said that another warning bell is that the job offer is fully remote and offers very attractive remuneration.

“Often this is a sign that it’s a scam, as criminals know that most people want to work from home. Also, if the salary sounds astronomical for the particular position, be wary,” Collard said.

You should research what the salary range of similar positions is before you respond to tempting job offers.

Collard said: “It’s also better to verify the job offer is real by contacting the company directly.”

Requests for payment or your info

According to Collard, the most significant warning sign is when payment is asked for application fees, training courses, or background checks.

As per the Employment Services Act, no one can charge job seekers for employment services.

Collard said: “If you are asked to pay anything for your recruitment, it is a clear scam.”

Similarly, legitimate employers will not ask for your sensitive personal information, such as your ID number or bank account details, until a very advanced stage of the recruitment process.

“This information is usually only requested after a job offer has been extended,” Collard said.

To ensure your safety during your job search, it is important to take precautions, trust your instincts and practice caution.

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