What are job scams and how do I avoid them?

The most common type of job scam is when you are charged a fee for help finding a job that may not exist.

In Ontario, you are not required to pay recruiters or hiring agencies for a job or to help you find a job. Legitimate agencies and recruiters are supposed to charge employers to find workers for them. You can get free help finding a job from an employment agency.

What do job scammers want?

In most cases, job scammers are trying to get you to send them money or to steal your personal identity. They often require you to pay an upfront cost or a “training fee” and then do not contact you again or direct you to public job boards.

Scammers may also require you to provide your personal information, especially your Social Insurance Number (SIN) number, and then use that information to open credit cards or make purchases in your name. It is important to keep your SIN number safe at all times. Only provide your SIN number after you have had an in-person interview and have received a legitimate job offer.

What are the signs of a job scam?

You might come across job scams on job boards, in your email or while looking for jobs online. Here are a few similarities between job scams that should make you suspicious:

  • You are required to pay a fee or provide your SIN number
  • You receive an offer for a job you have not applied for
  • A job posting or advertisement contains misspellings or grammatical errors
  • A job requires no or little experience but pays well
  • The company website does not show their address, a list of employees or their contact information
  • You are contacted by someone using a strange or free email address (for example; @gmail.com, @yahoo.ca, @hotmail.com)

What can I do to avoid being scammed?

Use your best judgement when considering a job opportunity. Ask someone you trust to look at the opportunity and give you their opinion. A good rule to consider is, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

If you are suspicious of a job opportunity, you should research the company online by searching for their name and contact details with the words “scam” or “fake.”

The Anti-Fraud Centre has an article on common job scams such as car wrapping and mystery shopper jobs. They also have a section of other types of fraud you should be aware of.

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Last updated: March 6, 2017 4006230