The vast majority of people using these types of sites are sincere and honest in the information they provide and in their reasons for joining. However, there are exceptions and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself protected while meeting people through websites.
- Never disclose private information that hasn’t been requested specifically on sites
- Be very careful about how and when you meet people in person
- Take every precaution that profiles you are looking at are genuine
- Never be tempted to send or transfer money to people you meet online, however unfortunate their story
Follow this advice to search for jobs and place adverts safely online.
Be as anonymous as possible:
- Choose a username that doesn’t let everyone know who you are. Don't include your surname or any other identifying information such as your home address or place of work either in your profile or when you first make contact.
- Keep contact details private, we only ask for your email address for contact purposes. Many service users have found setting up a new email address when employing someone has been really beneficial. Stay in control when it comes to how and when you share information. Don't include all of your contact information such as your home address, or phone number in your profile or initial communications. Your contact information can only be viewed by those registered to the site, see the privacy notice for further information. Take things slowly and share more information when you feel comfortable doing so. It is impossible to get back information once you have given it away.
Password & Security:
- Be careful when accessing your account from a public or shared computer so that others can't view or record your password or personal information.
- Be wary of opening email attachments from someone you have only just met.
- Ensure that you keep your internet security software up to date.
Get to know people, take your time and trust your instincts. Act with caution and learn more about someone before contacting them. Think about creating a separate and anonymous email address for this site.
Be responsible and do your own research:
- The website provider does not have the ability to check the backgrounds of users and verify the information that they provide. They cannot do a DBS, this will be down to the individual employer. Therefore, do not get a false sense of security because you're on this job site; do your own research to learn more about someone and make informed decisions before you decide to meet for an interview.
- Check to see if the person whose profile you have viewed is on other social networking sites like Facebook, do a web search to see if there are other records of the person online, and if possible use Google image search to check the profile photos.
Money requests are your red light:
- Why would someone need to borrow money off somebody they have never met, or only just met? There is no reason for anyone to ask you for money or your financial information, whatever story they give. Always keep your bank and account information private. Stop all contact immediately and report the matter to the police.
Report unacceptable or suspicious behaviour:
- Nobody should have to put up with offensive, insulting and threatening behaviour online any more than they should or would if talking to someone in person. Trust your instincts and immediately stop communicating with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or apprehensive.
- Never feel embarrassed to report a problem to the site provider. You are helping them and doing other users a favour.
Be smart and stay safe. Even if you feel you think you know someone through contact via email, you should still remember that this person is largely a stranger to you. Therefore, it is important that when meeting someone in person for an interview, you take precautions.
Sadly, people aren't always what they seem. Scammers want one thing and one thing only – money.
Here are a few examples of common scammer behaviours to watch out for and report:
- Requests for money - This really should send alarm bells ringing whatever the form the request comes in. Scammers will look to gain your sympathy with the stories they tell.
- Threats and blackmail - These are ugly words. But some scammers have tried to threaten money out of people.
Advice for avoiding scammers
- Never ever respond to a request for money.
- Never give out bank account or other details.
- Beware of the sob story - someone telling you how much they want to visit you but need a loan to pay for the ticket/visas. Or stories about a desperately ill family member who needs help with medical expenses.
- Notice if a contact seems out of touch: people offering foreign numbers for contact, people who seem not to be aware of things happening in the UK – events, the weather etc, people who want or need to send messages at unusual hours.
- Be wary if someone seems vague in their communication about their interests, or may often repeat things or seem disconnected.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a friend – If a contact starts to feel strange and especially if money gets raised you might ask a friend or relative if you are not at a point where you think there is something to report.
If you suspect that someone you're talking to may be a scammer, stop your communications and immediately report them. You should never feel too stupid or ashamed to report someone.