A MONTH ago, Katie responded to a job advertised on Facebook for a company that was reportedly experiencing rapid growth.
They needed sales staff in a hurry.
She emailed her CV and to her surprise, the next day received a telephone call. The employer needed a scanned copy of her licence - it was a pre-requisite for the position.
A telephone interview was arranged and within the hour, she was told the job was hers and she needed to send through her Tax File Number and bank account information.
Katie did so diligently. And then all went quiet.
She called the number they provided. It had been disconnected.
She emailed. There was no reply.
The Facebook page was no longer up. Katie began to smell a rat.
A week after the interview, she received a letter from one of our telcos thanking her for taking up their offer of a post-paid mobile account.
Katie then had to speak with seven different organisations to mitigate any future misuse of her personal information and to respond to the services set up in her name.
More than 200 clients required detailed support from iDcare in 2015 where they had provided personal information to a fake job advertisement that resulted in a subsequent misuse.
The most common was the purchase of items such as mobile phones on credit.
Throughout 2015, ScamWatch collected on average more than 200 reports per month relating to fake employment scams.
It's also worth pointing out that Facebook is not the sole domain of employment frauds. Newspapers, employment-seeker websites and even clippings on community notice boards will attract the fraudsters.
The US Federal Trade Commission recognises the problem and has developed a number of guidelines for promoters to use when assessing whether an advertisement is genuine.
The commission says that those looking to push their fraudulent employment ads aren't too keen to answer questions, don't like to provide physical addresses and like to pay for their ads on credit.
Their tips for prospective promoters are also tips that most of us can use to spot the scam.
The commission says to watch out for buzz phrases like "quick and easy", "absolutely guaranteed" and "fast growth".
They say we should be wary of telephone interviews only, email addresses that aren't personalised to a company domain (such as @yahoo.com or @hotmail.com etc) and a process that seems very efficient (too efficient).
I say, do your diligence.
Employment is not just about someone letting you in. It's about them benefiting from you and your contributions.
So ask questions, least of which is the physical location of the organisation, how long has the organisation been operating, and search the bona fides of the company by doing a free company search at http://www.asic.gov.au.
You will be able to check the location of the organisation and how long it has been registered with ASIC, too, for a small fee if you remain unconvinced.
It's hard when emotions are high and you, your family and friends are doing employment high-fives to each other.
But take a breath. You don't want to be in Katie's shoes.
Dr David Lacey is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Director of iDcare, Australia & New Zealand's National Identity Support Service.
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