March 23, 2020

Job scams 101

How to identify them and protect yourself in the job search

Whether you’re looking for summer work or internships, or getting ready to start your career post-graduation, you’ll likely encounter some job opportunities that may seem too good to be true. (Hint: they probably are.)

There are a growing number of job scams that prey on students who are eager to enter the workforce and may not have much experience with the job search process. Scammers use various tactics to lure potential victims, but their end goal is usually the same — they’re after your money or your identity.

So, how can you tell which opportunities are genuine and which aren’t? Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe in the job search:

  1. Never send money or accept money to get a job
    A reputable employer won’t ask you to send them money or request that you accept money on their behalf. A common job scam is the fake cheque deposit, where you’re asked to deposit a cheque and then e-transfer the funds to a third party. The cheque is almost always fake, and the result is that you’ve lost your own money.
  2. Avoid sharing your personal details before you have an offer
    Legitimate employers will generally only ask for your name, email and phone number. Before or during a job interview they won’t ask you for personal information like your social insurance number (SIN), bank information, a copy of your passport, or your birthdate. Only provide this information once you are sure a job is legitimate and have signed an offer letter or contract.      
  3. Ask questions and do your own research
    If you’re not confident that a job offer or employer is legitimate, ask more questions until you feel comfortable. If you keep getting vague answers, it might be a good idea to move on. You also have powerful search engines at your disposal. Try looking up the employer or job opportunity elsewhere to verify its legitimacy.

If you come across an enticing job opportunity but need help verifying if it’s legitimate, check out Career Services’ page on job scams. There, you’ll find a list of more red flags you can watch out for and who you can contact for help, along with resources from UCalgary IT, the Government of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.