Is this job a scam? Is it too good to be true?
The answer in most cases is yes. If someone wants to hire you right away and send you money for doing nothing, then it’s a scam. Below are some tips to protect yourself from fraudulent practices.
How to spot a fraudulent job posting or recruitment effort
- You’re contacted with a non-business email address
Many times, the job posting will have what appears to be a legitimate email address (using an alias). However, the conversation will then shift to a personal email address. It is extremely rare for businesses to use web-based emails such as Gmail or Hotmail to correspond with candidates. Please be aware that ANY email address can scam you. This includes cmail addresses that are aliased or hacked. Even if the email appears to come from a legitimate email address such as one ending in “carleton.ca”, please use caution and don’t accept any banking information or share your details with anyone.
- You’re sent a phishing or job scam email
This guide on our Student Services website gives more information on how to spot a scam email sent directly to you.
- You’re offered the job on the spot
Legitimate employers never hire anyone without a professional and thorough interview and reference-checking process. Legitimate interviews are face-to-face, via video (Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, etc.), or over the phone. NO ONE IS LEGITIMATELY HIRED BY AN EMAIL ALONE.
- The business does not identify itself
A legitimate business does not take applications without identifying itself first. Any solicitation for a job will include a clear indication of who is hiring and what kind of work that involves. If someone approaches you in the tunnels or on campus with clipboards, do not fill them out. Do not provide information to anyone holding a clipboard unless it is clear whom they represent. It should be noted that solicitation of students on-campus is strictly prohibited unless it is a university-affiliated group or employer/organization that has booked a booth through the university.
- You need to wire money or cash a cheque
If you are asked to provide banking information, receive an e-transfer, cheque, or money order and you haven’t done anything, then alert your bank. Never cash a cheque and transfer funds to a “supplier.” Often a victim is asked to cash a cheque from a “supplier” or “client.” This will cover the victim’s pay/salary with the difference to be forwarded to the out-of-town supplier. The victim is often left owing the bank for the bounced cheque. Legitimate businesses don’t operate like this. Most international businesses require a brokerage and banking support to complete legal international transactions.
- You’re asked to do an interview by IM (or texting) but have had no other contact after you inquired about an opportunity or applied
Again, no legitimate business (big or small) will use texting or IM to conduct comprehensive interviews because they want to get a proper sense of you as a candidate.
- They contact you at odd hours
Many of the fraudsters are in different time zones or continents but will try to pass it off as though they are local. During correspondence they will portray themselves as “travelling business owners” or “away for a while on business”; this is how they hide the fact that they are located on another continent.
- There’s no experience necessary for jobs that should require experience
If someone wants to hire you to handle large amounts of cash and you have no accounting or financial management experience, then it is most likely a scam. If you are asked to handle operations and supplies for a legitimate business, some experience is always required. See #3 above.
- Things don’t add up as you do your research
Often fraudsters will try to use legitimate businesses as a front. The job posting will often use a real business name and possibly a link to a real website. Always check those sites thoroughly. Often a legitimate company will use a corporate human resources branch to correspond with candidates. Contact the number on the website or job posting to confirm it is legitimate. If there is no website or no mention of it on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, then that is a sign that things are not adding up.
- They ask for personal information
If you are asked for your personal information without meeting anyone, then this could be a scam. Never share your banking information, social insurance number, credit cards, or other identity documents until you’re certain you’re dealing with a legitimate business, as your identity could be stolen. Do not give your personal information to individuals presenting themselves in hallways, tunnels, and streets. Do not provide any personal information to anyone unless you have a complete and detailed job description and organizational profile, and until you have completed a thorough interview and received a formal job offer in writing.
Make sure to do your research and trust your gut if something feels off.
See more examples of employment scams at the Government of Canada’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Home – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca)