DBS campaign to raise awareness of job scams

The UK government has highlighted recent work carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in collaboration with the organisations JobsAware and Cifas, to raise awareness of job scams and identify the impact that they can have.

What is a job scam?

According to Action Fraud, a job scam (employment fraud) is when a fraudster claims to be an employer or a recruitment agent, hiring an individual for a job that does not exist. Individuals are often approached after uploading their CV to a recruitment website, and are contacted under the proviso of a potential job offer. The fraudsters may even attempt to enhance their credibility by referring the individual to a fake third-party agency for onboarding.

What do the criminals gain from this?

  • Personal Information: Fraudsters request personal information from the victim as part of the fake recruitment and onboarding process – this can range from details like a National Insurance Number, to a date of birth or passport details, to full bank account details under the pretence of arranging future salary payments. This information can easily be used to steal an individual’s identity and commit further fraud offences.

  • Money: Fraudsters may also request upfront payment for fictitious administrative tasks such as pre-employment criminal record checks, or visa applications for overseas employment. Some individuals may be asked to pay a fee for the job application itself.

“Job scams are on the rise, and in 2020, seasonal job scams increased by 88% compared to 2019. With figures predicted to increase again this year, it’s important to remain vigilant and familiarise yourself with the signs of a potential job scam or fraudulent job advert.”


General advice is for job seekers to remain vigilant, avoid disclosing too much personal information on their CVs and to carry out basic due diligence on any employers or agencies they enter into communication with (such as checking official company records on websites like Companies House or Overseas Registries.) According to Action Fraud, job seekers aged between 18 and 24 years old are most likely to be targeted by employment fraud, with the average loss per victim amounting to £4,000.

More than two thirds of job seekers use online services to look for employment according to JobsAware, who are a not-for-profit service offering help and advice to individuals who have suffered from job scams. As the use of online recruitment services has grown, so have the opportunities for criminals to take advantage of individuals who are eager for new opportunities and willing to provide valuable information to them in order to gain what they believe to be, legitimate employment.

According to guidance from the DBS campaign, job seekers should look for the following signs of potentially fraudulent job adverts:

  • Illegitimate companies or emails

  • Poorly written job adverts

  • Suspicious contact details

  • Unrealistic salaries

  • Job offers without an interview

  • Requests for payment

What should victims of a job scam do?

  • Stop all communication with the “agency” and report them to Action Fraud

  • Report the incident via the JobsAware Portal

  • If money has been taken, contact the bank to let them know and also report it to the police

  • Warn the operators of the website to which the CV was uploaded

“The pandemic created numerous opportunities for criminals to steal victims’ personal and financial details, including through fake online job adverts. Personal information is extremely valuable to criminals as they can use a victim’s details to impersonate them and apply for products and services such as bank accounts, loans, and credit cards.”

Mike Haley, Cifas CEO

For more information on this, visit the Action Fraud, JobsAware, Cifas, or GOV.UK websites.

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