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What is a scam job?

The Careers Service reviews each job advertisement published in Handshake in an effort to ensure jobs are genuine, lawful and non-discriminatory. Occasionally, however, a job may get through our checksor 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 aren’t 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 there’s 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 namesall possibly hiding something.
  • You are asked for moneyyou do a job to earn money, not to lose it.
  • The answers to your questions about the job or company seem vague or unconvincing.
  • Interviews are in cafés or public places and they avoid showing you the work premisesthey 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

Opportunities abroad

There are many organisations and agencies offering overseas work experiencedozens contact the Careers Service every year. The quality of these organisations can vary from excellent to very unreliable, possibly even fraudulent. It is impossible for the Careers Service to check the quality of these organisations and their offerings overseas. We treat their material in good faith, unless we discover anything to the contrary.

An excellent organisation has nothing to fear by putting a potential applicant in touch with someone who has already used their services. Don't just accept unattributed testimonials on websites – ask for contact information from one or two past users so that you can find out more about what is on offer. Be suspicious if this is not forthcoming.

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