When looking for work, remember the old saying “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.” Employment scams are real and often have common elements – high paying employment, business opportunities, or “get-rich-quick” schemes. Unfortunately, many new entrants to the labour market, such as students, fall prey to these scams.
With any job opportunity, it is important to do your research. Make sure the company is legitimate and the person you are speaking with actually works there. And look for red flags. No legitimate employer will ask you for personal information (e.g., birthday, social insurance number, passport number) or banking information, or expect you to purchase your own supplies before you have a firm job offer. No legitimate job posting will require you to pay for training, a retainer, or “recruiter’s fees.” Legitimate job ads do not have spelling or grammatical errors or use generic emails (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo).
Your job offer includes a request for you to send the employer money for the supplies you will need to start work, perhaps for uniforms or special tools/software. Once you send them the money for these so-called supplies, you never hear from them again.
Job ads that require you to enroll in, and pay for, a company’s training or certification programs, guaranteeing employment and high starting salaries upon completion. Even if the training seems legitimate, the job offer isn’t there and the training is unlikely to be recognized by other employers.
A fake company advertises specialized business opportunities (e.g., office cleaning franchise), promising clients in exchange for an upfront investment fee of several thousand dollars. The paperwork may show you as a “partner” or “sub-contractor” and you may even be encouraged to register it as your own business. They may even guarantee clients within a specific timeframe or the investment fee will be refunded.
Ads like these are designed to scam people into low-paying work like stuffing envelopes or making cheap handicraft products. They may even ask you to pay in advance and deliver low-quality materials to work with.
Fake employment agencies or individuals posing as headhunters contact you using information from a résumé you’ve posted on career websites. Job seekers are invited to interviews and promised employment with high salaries. They are then pressured to sign a contract and asked to pay a retainer or initiation fee for the job placement service. Once they get your money, they disappear.
Be extra careful about ads promising jobs in foreign countries. The information they give you may not always be easy to verify due to language and other barriers. The scammers may conduct fake interviews in hotel suites or rented offices while posing as foreign recruiters or agents. They will then offer you a position but require up-front payment to process visas and other paperwork.
''When in doubt, walk away!''