Job advert scams and misleading adverts are surprisingly common, especially as many website will allow jobs to be advertised for free – from Facebook, to job boards like Indeed, and the Job Centre’s own job board too. Many of these scams will either demand an upfront payment for consideration for the role, or they’ll expect you to hand over your bank details and go on to misuse them.
When you’re looking for work, and maybe feeling a bit desperate, you can end up applying for all sorts of positions you’d never have otherwise considered – and the scammers know it! So how should you make sure that you don’t fall foul of a con-artist?
Businesses will be checking up your work history with previous employers – you should do the same. While not all businesses will have a website of their own, a quick google can usually find the answers. Whether it’s a scathing review on Yelp.com, a Facebook page, or just a listing on the Companies House website, every company will have some sort of online presence. If you can’t find any trace of a company on the internet, the odds are it doesn’t really exist. So no point trying to work there.
Ever seen a job advert like this? “I earn thousands of pounds a month, with flexible hours from the comfort of my own home. And you could too!” The key word here is “could”.
Jobs like this are often self-employed positions – you’ll be acting as a sales rep for a larger business, or even a franchise, selling their products and taking the profit. You’ll be forking out for the products too, before you’ve even made a sale. They can provide a great source of extra income, but many people struggle to make a living from it.
While many self-employed positions can provide a flexible work-life balance that you can’t get from the typical nine-to-five, other companies use them unscrupulously to pay staff far less than they should. Often you’ll just get commissions on sales, and some basic expenses. You’ll also need to be prepared to handle your own tax and National Insurance.
Most businesses will have their own e-mail address, and a phone number. If a job advert just gives the option for free Hotmail/Gmail address you might want to give it a second thought. Scammers prefer these sorts of contact details as they’re free and can obscure the identity of the owner (unlike a telephone number!). If there is a phone number and you’re a bit unsure, don’t be afraid of giving it a ring.
It’s illegal for a company to ask someone to buy their way into a job interview. While you might be expected to pay for costs of a uniform by some businesses, you’ll need to be offered the job first. If you’re asked for any money before then, walk away.
And definitely don’t give out your bank details to an employer until after you’ve been offered the job. Your first day is probably when they’ll want it. Yes, they’ll need it to pay you, but they won’t be doing that until you’ve started work.
You’ll almost certainly need to interview for a job before you start. While many recruitment agencies will place temporary staff without any need to interview where they’ll be working, you will still have to register with the agency who’ll be directly employing you. As well as registering with them, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your right to work in the UK, such as a passport, or a full-length UK birth or adoption certificate and your National Insurance number.
Even when a client is more than happy to take temporary staff on without interviewing, they may still wish to see people just to show them around and do some general housekeeping before you start; that way you can get straight to work when you start.
But if you’re told to start the job on Monday morning after nothing more than an e-mail exchange, then you’ll want to give things a second thought. Who knows who will be there to meet you…
Unfortunately, when it comes to job scams and misleading ads, they target the people most in need of work, and therefore, most vulnerable. But apply a little caution, and don’t just jump at every opportunity that comes your way and you’ll reap the rewards in your job search instead of getting caught out.