Recruitment platforms urged to join new anti-scam certification scheme

Job boards and recruitment platforms are urged to join a new certification scheme as reports of job-related scams quadruple.

JobsAware’s government-backed, industry-driven certification scheme will help protect jobseekers, employer brands and recruitment platforms from advertisement scams and fraud, organisers said.

Research from the campaigning organisation shows a rise of 259% in job scam reports from Q4 in 2022 to 2023. It also shows three in four jobseekers want more action from job boards to prevent fraudulent activity.

Job boards and platforms becoming ‘JobsAware-protected’ will help assure jobseekers and employers that the jobs listed on these sites are legitimate and that, as a business, they will not be associated with fraudulent activity.

To become JobsAware-protected, businesses will be audited by the British Assessment Bureau against a framework of regulation from the UK government, recruitment industry, and JobsAware’s code of practice – co-developed with the industry.

Auditors will need to see clear evidence that all best-practice standards are in place for a certification to be issued, with an annual renewal to ensure standards are maintained.

Online recruitment fraud has continued to increase since the pandemic. Recent Ofcom data shows that 30% of UK online adults have experienced employment scams or fraud, which ranks above the likes of identity, dating and health. People are also losing on average over £3k to scammers.

To date, job boards such as e4s, Guardian Jobs, Adzuna and job board software provider Madgex have committed to be involved in the scheme’s pilot which is expected to begin in Q2 2024.

“JobsAware is calling for all job boards and platforms to become JobsAware-protected to show their commitment to protecting jobseekers and their business credibility. Companies can visit the JobsAware site to apply to join the pilot scheme,” a press statement said.

JobsAware, in partnership with British Assessment Bureau, worked with the Online Advertising Programme, an operational part of the Online Safety Act, as well as the Online Recruitment Forum to create the scheme and help tackle online recruitment scams.

JobsAware has previously worked with the Metropolitan Police, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Citizens Advice, GetSafeOnline and CIFAS to highlight employment fraud among jobseekers.

Keith Rosser, chair of JobsAware, said the scheme will be “game-changing” for protecting jobs and the safety of employees, including jobseekers: “How people come to find jobs is fundamentally changing – it’s becoming much more digitalised. On one hand this creates opportunities, but it also allows fraudsters to scale.”

Rosser also said employment scams have risen sharply in recent years and that has harmed the labour market. 

He said many often apply for just one role and are counting on it for their livelihoods: “People are losing on average over £3k to scammers, they can also have their identity compromised or fall foul to other kinds of labour abuse.”

Conservative minister Simon Fell agreed it was an “excellent example” of the industry protecting the public on behalf of the Online Safety Act and that the scheme will be certified by UKAS-accredited organisations will give people “peace of mind” and further protection from fraud.

“It's a good example of what we want to see from the online economy as we strengthen controls alongside important initiatives such as the Online Fraud Charter,” said the prime minister’s anti-fraud champion.

Tim Boswell, senior director at Madgex, said the significance of protecting worker rights “cannot be overstated” and the organisation “whole-heartedly endorses” JobsAware’s mission.

Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, said that businesses and workers have “often faced difficulties with online recruitment” and he also endorses the scheme.

Hollinrake said he was pleased to see an “industry-led solution” tackling the problem and that the scheme will “incentivise businesses to follow the rules” and give workers the confidence to use recruitment sites online.

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