The Red Flags of Recruitment: How to Recognize HR Impersonation Scams

Jan 25, 2024 7 minutes

Scammers impersonate well-known companies like Verbsz to gain access to personal information from job seekers and have even been known to defraud individuals of money through false promises.

While you’ve probably received your fair share of suspicious emails, there is a type of scam that has taken email and social media by storm – HR recruiting scams.

Most people have received scam emails in some form or another. From poorly worded emails claiming you have won a large prize that you never entered to win to standard phishing emails and spoofed emails, scam emails tend to be rife with inconsistencies in presentation and language that make you question who is really behind the email being sent.

However, in recent years, scammers have gotten more sophisticated in how they craft their scams and who they target. HR scammers have discovered even more methods for defrauding people out of their hard-earned money and valuable personal data.

Job hunters are a particularly vulnerable group, because they provide personal details to recruiters such as their name, address, and bank details among other data.

With these HR impersonation scams becoming incredibly common, it’s now more important than ever to arm yourself with information to recognize and avoid these scams whenever you encounter them.

What Are HR Impersonation Scams?

Although impersonation scams aren’t a new phenomenon, the methods that scammers use have changed over the years. Even though job searchers may use legitimate websites to look for and apply to jobs, HR scammers have expanded beyond using traditional emails and taken advantage of social media and direct messaging– allowing them to more easily impersonate corporate recruiters.

Scammers pretend to be real HR personnel from real companies to attract job candidates and gain confidential information from them. This type of scam is particularly rampant in the tech industry.

Many companies on LinkedIn have been targeted, with HR personnel being impersonated to get job candidates to provide information or click potentially harmful email links.

These HR scammers go to great lengths to appear legitimate in their conversations with targets, using fake social media profiles and emails with recognizable tech company logos and spoofed email addresses.

Recently, we’ve had several reports of scammers preying on potential job candidates by impersonating Verbsz hiring managers and recruiters on platforms like Telegram. Scammers are claiming to be from Verbsz to legitimize their conversations with individuals looking for jobs or hoping to interact with a legitimate agency.

These scammers build trust to gain access to victims’ personal information such as Social Security/Social Insurance numbers, bank account information, and addresses. In some cases, they’ve even asked for payment or attempted to convince individuals that they can provide a return of money after an initial “investment”.

Why Scammers Target Job Hunters

As technology advances our capabilities as a society and social media is more accessible than ever before, scammers have also utilized technology and social media to develop more elaborate methods of fraud.

With workers changing jobs at such a high rate thanks to the worldwide global pandemic from COVID-19 and more remote work opportunities, there is an influx of individuals searching for new jobs online. In fact, 41% of workers worldwide are ready to leave their jobs– most of which are searching for new employment.

Unfortunately, this large pool of job seekers has attracted the attention of scammers who view potential job applicants as victims that they can take advantage of. With remote positions, Zoom and Teams interviews, and online applications, more job applicants have not seen or met hiring managers or members of HR for a company prior to the first interview. This lack of awareness makes applicants particularly vulnerable to HR impersonation scams.

How To Avoid Job Scams and HR Impersonation Scams

If you’ve been actively searching for a new job, it can be hard not to get excited at the prospect of an interview or potential opportunity. However, it’s important to do your research and ensure that anyone you’re talking to about a potential job is who they say they are.

Many recruiters and hiring managers will reach out through professional social median platforms such as LinkedIn, so it’s not automatically a red flag if a recruiter contacts you this way. However, it is worth taking the time to review the company they purport to work for and ensure they are using their company’s email and are connected to their company on social media.

Here are some of the top things to look out for when talking to a recruiter or a hiring manager at a potential job:

Established Social Media – A legitimate recruiter or employee will have a social media account with history, connections, a photo, and recent activity. If any of these items are missing from their profile, it could be a sign that they aren’t who they say they are.

The Job Is Posted Elsewhere – While many recruiters will use LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and other social media tools to reach out to job seekers, it’s not the only place that these roles are posted. Companies almost always post jobs on multiple platforms, including their own website.

They Have A Company Email – Most recruiters will keep interactions on social media brief and to the point, preferring to communicate through email once you have become acquainted. Recruiters should have a company email such as recruiter@companyname.com. Be wary of individuals using a personal email address such as Hotmail, yahoo, Gmail, or other non-business email account. Verbsz recruiters will always use company emails to contact job candidates, partners, and other businesses.

Be Wary of Encrypted Platforms – Watch out for recruiters who try to move the conversation to an encrypted platform to talk, such as Telegram. These types of platforms are an ideal space for scammers to extort money and data from job seekers without leaving a trace–making them difficult to investigate and prosecute.

They Ask for Too Much Data – One of the tell-tale signs of a scammer is that they ask too much of you, too soon. Never provide a “recruiter” with personal information such as your SSN or SIN or provide any form of payment during the hiring process. Verbs does not require this information for hiring, nor do most other companies.

How Verbsz Hires Candidates

While every company’s recruitment and hiring process is a bit different, the best way to avoid a potential HR impersonation scam is to be aware of how a company hires new employees.

If you know what to expect when applying for roles, you’ll be able to identify a potential scam right from the beginning – saving yourself from potential disappointment and saving your time, money, and data from being used.

At Verbsz, we post all our open positions on our website’s careers page. Once we receive applications, we review each applicant’s skills and competencies to ensure they match the role requirements.

Our recruiters and hiring managers can reach out to you either through email for an application you’ve submitted directly through our website or through the job posting website that you have applied through.

Regardless of the initial contact method (which should always come from a Verbsz business email), you should expect the following process to take place:

  • An initial email, phone, or video call with a member of the recruitment team
  • A potential second phone or video call with members of the team that you would be working with
  • A potential third phone or video call with the company executives

At no point during the interview process will we ask for confidential personal data or for payment to apply for an open position within the company. Be wary of any individuals pretending to work for Verbsz who ask for these things.

Stay Vigilant to Recognize Potential Scams

Verbsz Marketing is a digital marketing company dedicated to helping businesses grow online. Our services are exclusively tailored for companies, and we do not engage with individuals. Unfortunately, there are scammers who misuse company brands to deceive people for financial gain.

As individuals, it’s crucial to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of communications. We often receive emails from individuals inquiring about our authenticity, and we promptly inform them that the communication is not from us and is likely a scam.

If you have encountered such issues, please email us at hr.india@verbsz.com. We are confident that these scammers are using non-authentic methods such as Gmail IDs or Telegram and are happy to chat with job candidates, partners, and other businesses through verified business email accounts.