As unemployment numbers continue to climb, so do fake employer scams that are preying on those searching for work. In fact, there have been triple-digit increases in fake employer scams that aim to gain access to personal and financial information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online human resources schemes where criminals pose as potential employers have soared 295% from a year ago, while schemes used for money laundering have skyrocketed by 609%, according to the security firm ZeroFox.

In human resources scams, criminals use a company’s name and logo and solicit applications from online job seekers. They can hold fake interviews by phone or online video conferencing and then offer the unsuspecting victim a job. As part of the hiring process, the scammer askes for personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers for direct deposits. The scammers can take this information and drain bank accounts as well as commit identity theft.

Money-laundering employment fraud can include a job posting to assist a company with payment processing or fund transfers. The unsuspecting victim is asked to move relatively small amounts of cash through their personal bank account. However, they are actually illegally obscuring the payments’ origins. Reputable companies do not need a third party to handle money transactions. And there is no need to use a personal bank account for company financial business.

And the No. 1 fake employer scam right now is the reshipment of packages that involve stolen goods. The Better Business Bureau has reported 65% of complaints it receives for work-from-home fraud includes a scam advertising for a “warehouse redistribution coordinator” or a similar job title that has an unsuspecting victim reshipping merchandise purchased through stolen credit cards or counterfeit money orders. Many times, these stolen items are repackaged and sent out to foreign addresses.

Do Your Research

Many of these job scams are advertised on major online employment platforms and seem to come from well-known companies. So, how do you know a job posting might be a scam?

One of the most important things you can do before sending your personal information to a potential employer is to do your research. Call the company directly and confirm the job opening is legitimate. If you’re in email or phone contact with a hiring manager, confirm he or she actually works for the company and his or her email address and phone number are correct. Many companies have their job openings listed on their own website, and you can apply directly through there.

When in doubt, do not hand over your personal or financial information. Especially during these hard times, protecting your identity is essential.