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Spotting scam jobs

What is a scam job?

The Careers Service reviews each job advertisement published in Vacancies & Opportunities in an effort to ensure jobs are genuine, lawful and non-discriminatory. However, occasionally a job may get through our checks - or you might find something through a different website. Be vigilant and use your common sense.

Scam jobs' advertisements are sometimes illegal, but more often they exploit loopholes or grey areas in the law, or rely on the applicant not reading and understanding fully what they are getting into.

Examples of scam jobs include (but sadly arenít limited to) the following:

  • Any job that requires you to supply bank or financial information, passport or similar identification at the first stage of application is probably phishing. These details might be required by a legitimate employer, but only after a job offer.
  • Pyramid Selling - you are recruited by a seller above you to buy stock and sell it on. Or you are expected to make money by signing up new members to sell for you. See pyramid type schemes in wikipedia
  • Premium rate or international numbers as the only way to respond to a job advertisement. The job may not exist but the charge for the phone call will, and can be enormous.
  • Roles where you are required to sell services or goods directly to all your personal contacts (the organisation may be after your sales leads and not you).
  • An expectation that you pay for training - the small print may say that you pay for the course but thereís no guarantee of work at the end of it.

Tips for recognising scam jobs

  • There is pressure to sign paperwork without the chance to read and consider it
  • You are directed to different numbers, websites or even company names - all possibly hiding something
  • You are asked for money - you do a job to earn money not to lose it.
  • The answers to your questions about the job or company seem vague and unconvincing.
  • Interviews are in cafés or public places and they avoid showing you the work premises - they may not exist.
  • Be suspicious of any organisation without a website, but don't take a website as an automatic sign of authenticity - a website can be set up easily and may not be telling you the truth.
  • Research further - Google the company name, address, postcode, phone numbers and e-mail. Google these details + "scam" and see what hits you get. They may have run different scams in the past from the same address. Google Earth the address - does it look like a business location?

If in doubt

  • Don't apply for the job
  • Don't agree to sign anything
  • Don't pay for any services on offer
  • Don't return any contact with the organisation
  • Don't be reassured just because you see similar adverts across multiple websites. Some of these sites feed off each other, or they make so much money quickly that they can afford to advertise widely before disappearing.
  • Ask the Careers Service for a second opinion

If you have responded to a scam job advert


Trust your instinct - if it seems too good to be true it probably is!