There are hundreds of new vacancies advertised every week. The vast majority of these are genuine but there are reports that the number of scams is increasing so it is always a good idea to check an employers’ credentials if you are thinking of applying to them.
Some bogus companies are specifically targeting university students and graduates with job adverts, often promising high salaries and/or the chance to work abroad. These opportunities may not always be what they claim, so it is important that you check them carefully.
How to investigate advertised opportunities:
- Search for the organisation’s name, any contact names given, and the organisations website URL using a search engine (such as Google).
- Finding a website is not in itself proof of quality. Check if there is more than just a homepage.
- Query it if you find the website is ‘under construction’.
- You may find another company with a similar name. Some bogus companies will use similar or even the same name, as bona fide companies.
- Look at the search results beyond the first page of information. Just finding that a vacancy has been advertised widely does not necessarily mean that it is a bona fide one.
- Look out for forums where other jobseekers have given their feedback on advertised vacancies. Don’t necessarily treat positive feedback as showing that all is well – bogus companies (and many real ones!) have been known to post positive feedback on forums themselves.
- Look on the Companies House website to check if they are a registered company in the UK. If the organisation is a charity, you can look on the Charity Commission website to see if they are registered.
Other warning signs to look out for
- Any opportunity that requires you to pay money in advance, send your passport details, or a copy of your birth certificate. There are some genuine opportunities (e.g. some gap year opportunities) where you may have to pay something to the organisation, but this should be advertised clearly in their brochure/website, and is never paid at the time of making first contact. Be very wary of any vacancies that say you have to pay anything up front.
- If the only contact you are given is a telephone number, especially if it is a mobile (sometimes an overseas mobile), or an 0845 number.
- An email that doesn’t contain the company name, but contains the name of an Internet Service Provider or is a Google mail or hotmail account.
On their own these things may not be a cause for concern, but if you encounter a number of these, then tread carefully. If you are still suspicious about a vacancy or organisation once you have done some checks, then don’t apply. If an opportunity looks like it’s too good to be true, it probably is!
How to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Do not include your date of birth, marital status, or place of birth on a CV, and only give your first and last name, Look at our CV pages for more help with CVs.
- You can also use a telephone masking service to protect your private telephone numbers.
- Be wary of posting personal information on the web (via sites like Facebook). If you post your CV on job board databases think about the information about yourself that you are sharing with other people. Look for sites that have user protection, such as password controls. You could post a CV with basic details and then send further information when you are sure about the organisation and the person you are dealing with.