Identify and Protect Yourself from Job Scams
How Not To Be Scammed
It is important to educate yourself to identify and avoid potential fraudulent job postings. Use your best judgement when considering a job opportunity and ask yourself the following questions to identify the signs of a job scam.
- Are you offered a job without an application or interview?
If someone is willing to hire you without scouring your resume, giving you a thorough interview, or if they claim to be so impressed with you that they do not need to actually talk with you about the job, it is a scam.
- Does the employer conduct all of their interviews through texting, PM or DM?
No legitimate business conducts all their communications via text message, private message or direct message. An interview should be a formal process. It is always better to have a face-to-face interaction, via Skype or over the phone.
- Does the company ask you to pay for something to get started?
No real employer or employment agency should ask you to pay a fee before you start working. It is a sure sign of scam if the "employer" asks you to pay for the following services as a condition of employment: Job training in exchange for a "guaranteed" employment. Application process fees. A fee for background or credit checks
- Does the "employer" send you money or phony cheques and ask to use your bank account?
In this scam, you are offered a payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account to depositing cheques or transferring money. The "employer" usually sends applicants a cheque or an image of a cheque. The "employer" then instructs the applicants to deposit the cheque and keep some for themselves as a payment, and then ask the applicants to send the rest of fund back via their bank accounts. Real employers do not ask for any banking or personal information for any money deposits.
- Does the "employer" promise high pay for not much work?
Think about it – does it make sense to receive a handsome salary for minimal effort to do a job? If you are promised a very high pay, or a salary with a wide range (from $30K to 80K for the first year) for very little or easy work that does not require experience, it is a scam.
- Is the job description vague? Does it not require experience or specific skills?
Even for an entry-level position, some experience is always necessary. Real job postings usually include lots of details and the skills required. Consider it a red flag when the job description is vague on requirements, on the kind of skill or education required, or if it repeatedly highlights the flexible nature of the work.
- Is the company or contact information missing or vaguely presented?
A real job posting should include a contact email and a valid company website. Check the company name or email address with the word “scam” in the search engine to see what comes up in the search result. A legitimate business should have a good presence on the web with full contact information.
- Does the employer use an unprofessional email address?
If the email address of the contact person is registered at web-based email address (e.g. Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail), or if the job posting appears to have a legitimate email but later on shifts to use a personal email address for all the communications, you should be cautious. Also, if there is poor grammar and spelling in the communications with the employer, be on your guard.
- Do the "employer" search results add up?
Do your homework. You should be able to find information about the company by doing an online search. Although finding this information does not guarantee the company is a legitimate one, if you cannot find anything, or if the result of the search only gives you the job posting, it is a sure sign of a scam.
- Does the job posting sound too good to be true?
Good jobs are hard to find. If the job posting sounds too good to be true, or if the "employer" tells you they found your resume online and would like to offer you a job immediately, chances are this is a scam.
Common Job Scams
The "employer" asks via email, text message or through websites, offering to pay the student a weekly salary in exchange for affixing decals to his/her vehicle, turning it into mobile billboard. The student who responds is then sent a cheque for a few thousand dollars and are instructed to deposit that cheque into their bank account, withhold a certain amount, then withdraw the remaining cash and deposit it into the account of the person who has ostensibly been hired to "wrap" their car in advertising. However, the deposited cheque is a counterfeit, and by the time the student's bank discovers that, the cheque has cleared - leaving the student obliged to pay back the bank the entire amount of the cheque.
Office Assistant / Mystery Shopper
The "employer" sends a list of tasks to help the student fulfill his/her personal assistance or mystery shopping tasks. The student is then told that one of the assignments is to evaluate a money transfer service, like Western Union. The student receives a cheque with instructions to deposit it in a personal bank account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a name provided. The student will find out later that the cheque is counterfeit, thus making him/her accountable to pay for the funds he/she wired.
The "employer" asks the student, in order to secure his/her position, he or she must go through a course to be qualified. The student is asked to pay a fee for the course and its materials, and sign a registration form during the job interview. The student will find out later that the employer never sends out any material to him/her, and will not refund the money nor providing a copy of the contract.
The "employer" promises a job in a foreign country and the student is invited for an interview in a hotel suite or rented office. The student is then told that he/she must pay a fee for visas or paperwork up front. In some cases, the employer asks the student to send money for an "information package" to secure the promised foreign job. Later on, when the student receives the package, it only contains a list of company names.
The "employment agency" contacts the student who may have posted his/her resumes online or with a job search engine. The agency then invites the student for an interview and promises an employment with good salary. The student is pressured to sign a contract and pay an administration fee or a fee that the student will be refunded later when he/she is hired. Later on, the student never hears back from the agency or he/she will be given a list of referral companies that have never heard of the agency before.
Bogus Business Opportunities
The “company” advises specialized business opportunities such as Janitorial Service Franchise with phrases like "no experience required" or "experts available to coach you". The company promises the student contracts in exchange for an "investment" fee of several thousand dollars which will make the student a "sub-contractor" or "partner". The company then assures the student that the investment fee will be refunded after a specific time-frame. Later on, the student will learn that the company never delivers what has been promised. Other similar scams include: Starting an Internet business, multilevel marketing, buying a franchise.
The "employer" asks the student for a small fee to learn how to earn lots of money by stuffing envelopes at home. After sending the payment, the student finds out that the promoter never had any work to offer. The employer then asks the student to tell and ask his/her relatives and friends to buy the same envelop-stuffing "opportunity". The only way the student can make money is if other people respond the same way as he/she did. Other similar scams include: Assembly or craft work, rebate processing, online searches, or medical billing.
Direct E-mail Job Opportunities
Companies send e-mails directly to individual email addresses. The emails are often from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and occasionally a fake company domain name. The e-mails may contain a link to a posting that appears to come from a legitimate job search site or company but it is in fact fraudulent. The "employer" of the e-mails usually provide students opportunities to become a company representative or a regional manager with flexibility to work from home.
For more information:
LinkedIn Scam & Cyber Harassment
LinkedIn helps job seekers reach out potential employers and stay in touch with professionals in the field. Though LinkedIn is meant to be a platform for professional connections, it also attracts scammers looking for target victims.
You experience online harassment or cyberstalking
Online sexual harassment is on the rise. Stalkers use LinkedIn to connect and send unwanted messages, unsolicited comments and other forms of sexual harassment. For those who are targeted, the effects can range from emotional distress to reputational damage, even fear for one’s personal safety.
If a LinkedIn member is sending you inappropriate messages or demeaning comments, you do not have to respond back. To stop the online harassment, you should take appropriate actions:
- Document it: Save a screenshot of any inappropriate messages or the versions that come through your email address
- Block it: Block inappropriate contacts from viewing your profile or contacting you
- Report it: Report any inappropriate activities to LinkedIn
To report inappropriate online social behavior, please consult the LinkedIn Help site: Recognizing and reporting spam, inappropriate, and abusive content
Common LinkedIn Scams
You are invited to connect on LinkedIn through your email
This is one of the most common LinkedIn scams. Scammers send out email invitations similar to an authentic LinkedIn email (with a LinkedIn logo) to invite you click on the hyperlink included in the email. If you click on the hyperlink, it usually brings you to a compromised website that automatically downloads malicious malware.
It is a good practice to not click on any link in the emails from people you do not know.
You are invited by a fake LinkedIn member
The scammer has a fake LinkedIn profile and sends you an invitation requesting to connect with you. Accepting the invitation usually follows with messages that bring you to a compromised website that automatically downloads malicious software on your device.
It is a good practice to check out people who want to connect with you. Warning signs of fake profiles include an incomplete profile, poor grammar, and lacking in obvious relevant field/school.
You receive a request to update your personal information
This email tells you that your account is blocked due to inactivity on LinkedIn and asks you to confirm your email address and/or password. The content of this email usually includes a hyperlink that takes you to a compromised website looking similar to that of the official LinkedIn site where it asks to update your username and password. If you submit your email and password, your digital identity is stolen.
You receive a fake romantic message
Though LinkedIn is meant to be a platform for professional connections, it does not stop scammers to use it to lure you under the pretext of a prospective romantic relationship. The messages usually look like someone is truly interested in you and address the messages to you specifically by including your name. If you answer to these messages, your email is stored for future spam campaigns.
How to avoid LinkedIn scams?
- Set your LinkedIn privacy settings to limit with LinkedIn users for messaging or connection requests.
- Don’t accept every connection request you get. Check out the user’s profile and look for warnings signs such as poor grammar, incomplete and short profiles, and lacking in obvious relevant field/school.
- Block and report members with inappropriate online behaviours to LinkedIn to keep the platform a safe place.
- For more info on how to protect yourself: Get Cyber Safe
How to Protect Yourself / Report a Fraud
Tips to protect yourself from job scams
When you are applying a job:
- Never send your bank account or credit card details to anyone that you do not trust.
- Beware of products or schemes claiming to guarantee income and job offers requiring an upfront fee or sending money through a money transfer service.
- Do not believe in anyone who promises you a federal or postal job.
- Remember: there are no shortcuts to wealth - the only people that make money are the scammers.
- For more information, visit: Fraud Prevention
How to report a suspicious job posting on myFuture
- Please advise us as soon as possible: darlene.hnatchuk [at] mcgill.ca
Regarding Jobs listed on myFuture:
How to report a fraud
If you believe that you are the victim of fraud resulting from a job listing, or if you want to report a fraud, please contact: