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Avoiding Job Scams: How to Spot Them and What to Do September 3, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Jobhunting Pinoy Style.
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Job or employment scams are the scourge of job seekers. It’s like trying to choose a good apple from a basket where bad apples have been thrown in. They make jobhunting much more complicated and challenging. While you cannot get rid of job scams completely, you can minimize the likelihood that you’ll get victimized. Here’s how you can avoid job scams and protect yourself:

Check and verify.
Always determine whether the information provided by the hiring company or prospective employer is accurate and true. Check agencies such as DTI, SEC or your local chamber of commerce to determine if the company is indeed legit.

Check the location. Verify the company’s physical address. Many jobhunters don’t bother with this, especially if all the communications with the company are being done online. Job scammers take advantage of this neglect and list a false address. It could be a residential area, a vacant lot or even a real office building, except that they don’t operate from there.

Never pay so you could get hired.
The hiring company should be the one to pay you a salary for work or services you have rendered. You shouldn’t pay any amount of money just so they will hire you. This is a scam that’s common even for local hires. A company will ask you for an upfront fee so they could ‘process’ your papers.

Here’s the truth: when you’re a legitimate company looking to hire someone, there really is no reason for you to charge them for the work you have to do just to turn them into employees. The most basic manpower requirement you will need to hire someone is a clerk who will receive resumes and bio-data, go through them to classify them according to field of expertise, get in touch with people who have to be interviewed and schedule them for a person-to-person meeting with the big boss.

Beware of fixers.
If you must get hired, go straight to the company. Play safe and avoid going through middlemen or ‘fixers’ or whatever else they may be called. These people will promise you the moon but hardly have the power or authority to do so. Why? They’re probably not even employees of the company they’re pretending to represent.  Or they may be ex-employees, resigned or relieved of their duties.

If they say they are representing a government agency and want to hire you, check that they are indeed what they say they are. If you need to take a test, for example, make sure it is government-sanctioned and government-conducted. If you’ll only have to take the exam in someone’s house or at the local burger joint, drop everything and forget about this job offer.

Be careful of individuals who promise you jobs or try to recruit you. Check their affiliation with the company they’re referring to. Do this especially if you’re being offered an overseas job. Protect yourself, first and foremost.

You have to sell something to get hired.
Okay, let’s make one thing clear. Many companies that use this trick are legitimate business entities. But that stops there. Though they may be licensed to run a business (oftentimes as distributors of certain appliances or gadgets), the method they use in terms of manpower is suspect.

How the trick plays is quite simple: they advertise job openings (which often require the barest minimum – high school or undergrad, no experience) and once you reply to the ad, they ask you to come to their office for interview or screening.

Next, you’ll be asked to attend a short seminar or lecture or sales briefing or whatever else they may call it. Turns out, you won’t be receiving any salary from them but will be paid through commissions off sales of their gadgets, products or appliances.

Problem is, you have to buy these things from the company supposedly hiring you. They usually refer to these items as ‘product packs’ or ‘starter kits’. In other words, you’ll be paying money upfront.

So what, you say, since I will still be hired and can still earn through commissions. True but quite often, the products you will be selling are either too high-end (which means you’ll need specialized selling skills to actually sell anything) or low quality. Brands are not known nor are they competitive in the market.

In the end, you’ll be stuck selling a product door-to-door and earning very little, if at all. You might even find that trying to recoup your initial investment will be like flying to the moon using a firecracker.

Beware of companies asking for your bank details.
Be very careful about people or companies that ask for personal information, such as your bank account number, birthday, social security number, etc. prior to getting hired. Be extra careful particularly if the company is claiming to be based overseas. They will only need these if you’re already an employee. If someone’s asking for critical information about you, you might end up becoming a victim of identity theft.

Don’t be blinded by a lot of promises.
A hefty salary, plenty of benefits and the chance to work with a prestigious company are tried-and-tested baits that have lured people into falling for scams for many years. Greed can be healthy but it can sometimes reduce your common sense.

If the promises seem too extravagant or unrealistic ($120 an hour pay for unskilled workers with no experience and living in another country? Come on!), do some research first.

Know job scams.
Job scams exist for the sole purpose of duping you of your hard-earned money. They even become more troublesome if you didn’t have that money in the first place and had to borrow it from someone else.

The experience becomes even more painful and economically devastating if you had to sell or pawn your property just so you could get a job. Many individuals have suffered terrible financial setbacks because of job scams and are still in bad economic shape. They will be so for a long time.

So if you’re faced with a job scam, run – don’t walk – in the opposite direction. Better yet, help out a fellow jobhunter and report the scam to the authorities. If you don’t want to go that far, go online and speak out in forums. At least, if you expose these scams, more people will be warned.

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