Caught out of position

Job seekers need to beware of online scams when seeking work


Many South Africans are seeking a fulfilling career. The task of finding a match can be challenging as scammers find new and sophisticated ways of taking advantage of job seekers. The digital era has revolutionized job hunting, as more people turn to career portals and social media platforms like LinkedIn. While the online job market offers unprecedented access to opportunities, it also opens up avenues for cybercriminals to exploit applicants.

Being vigilant about potential red flags and having a strong grasp of digital security best practices are crucial at the outset of the job search process. Securing your online presence is as important as perfecting your CV. Ensuring a LinkedIn profile and other job-seeking platforms are fortified with strong privacy settings is the first line of defense against potential scams. This includes using strong, unique passwords and being mindful of the personal information that is displayed publicly.

See the signs

A key aspect of a safe job hunt is recognizing warning signs. According to the Skills Development Act, charging a job seeker a fee to be placed in a job is prohibited. Any upfront fee to be represented by a recruiter is also unlawful. There is an increase in the sophistication of scams where deceptive tactics involve replicating job descriptions from legitimate companies, utilizing authentic company logos, and posing as company recruiters. In more elaborate schemes, scammers might create counterfeit websites and profiles, meticulously designed to mimic official company pages.

Offers that promise high rewards for minimal effort, vague job descriptions, or requests for payment to secure an interview are red flags. If an offer or recruiter seems to evade direct questions or pressures you for personal information prematurely, it’s a sign to proceed with caution.

Online job platforms and professional networking sites are not immune to fraudulent activities, as scammers create counterfeit profiles or impersonate legitimate companies. It’s important to scrutinize the profiles of recruiters – check their connections, endorsements, and the consistency of their online presence. In addition, cross-referencing job offers with official company websites can help verify authenticity.

Regardless of an organization’s size, its contact information should be readily available online to allow potential candidates to reach out to a company representative for details about the available position. Conduct research on potential employers and verify job offers through multiple sources. Use LinkedIn’s privacy and security settings effectively to control the visibility of your profile.

Be cautious with the amount and nature of personal information shared during the initial phases of your search. Leave your ID number off your digital CV. Legitimate companies will not ask for financial details for the purposes of a credit check. Never provide your banking login details to anyone or respond to SMS messages that request a one-time pin.

Report suspicious activities or profiles to platform administrators for investigation. Trust your instincts – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Text | Carey van Vlaanderen
Photography | Minerva Studio

Carey van Vlaanderen is CEO of ESET Southern Africa. For more information, go to

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