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On the hunt for a new job? You may need add fraud protection to your search and application process.

From 2019 to 2023, reported cases of “business and job opportunity” fraud nearly tripled from about 38,000 to 107,000, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Those numbers might sound small given how many people apply for work in a given year, but last year it added up to a total of $490.7 million lost — the third highest loss of all fraud categories.

Experts say the shift to remote work, plus wider access to newer technology like crypto and AI, created new opportunities for fraudsters. More recently, large-scale corporate layoffs make the promise of a high-paying job hard for some applicants to resist, according to Brittany Allen, a trust and safety architect at Sift, a fraud prevention company.

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“Employment scams generally increase in prevalence when there are layoffs or a high unemployment rate. People are more desperate for a job to the point where they're willing to look past quite a few red flags,” Allen says. “There are so many layoffs that make the news each week, so I'm not surprised that it would be increasing.”

Job scams can appear in several forms. One of the most common types is phony job offers from individuals who are trying to steal your data, potentially to take out lines of credit in your name. Another prevalent type involves scammers asking for upfront payment for job training or equipment that isn’t real.

Here’s what you need to know about employment fraud and how to avoid it at every step of the job search, from the application to the background check: