Protect Yourself from Online Job Fraud

Posted: 12.03.2015
There has been a significant increase in the amount of online fraud in the last few years as more scammers prey on people looking for jobs.
In the current economic climate, this is a trend that will likely continue more frequently as dishonest people try to profit from unsuspecting job seekers.

This article will provide tips on how to protect yourself, specifically from online job fraud, and generally from other types of fraud.

Protect confidential information

Fraudsters can easily prey on people who are not careful with their confidential information. Protect your name, address, telephone number, and work experience as if it were your credit card. Make sure you don’t input your personal information online (date of birth, marital status) or details about your current company on any jobsite that you are not familiar with.

Exercise the same caution with social networking sites such as or By posting your work experience on these sites, it’s easier for fraudsters to take advantage by contacting you for bogus job opportunities.

Change your password regularly

Changing your password regularly will ensure you stay ahead of potential fraudsters in the event that your login information and password have been compromised.

Use strong passwords

Use passwords that are not obvious or easy to guess. A password with a combination of letters and numbers is the safest option.

Look for spelling and grammar errors

Indications of potential underlying issues are websites or emails that contain spelling or grammatical errors or have an unprofessional appearance. Safe and legitimate websites generally don’t have these issues.
HTTPS/secure transaction

Some websites will have a secure transaction symbol on your screen (it looks like a key or padlock at the bottom of your browser) or will have you input information on a browser that starts with https: (as opposed to http:) These controls provide stronger security features against hackers for the information that you provide.

Use reputable websites for job searches

Make sure you know who is behind any website before posting your resume or applying to positions. Local (Canadian or specific city) websites, where the people behind the scenes are geographically close, can also decrease the likelihood of fraud.
You can also check out who owns a particular domain by checking out the directory of registrants of websites which you can find here.

Look for the address of the company

Check the website’s “Contact Us” or “Contact Information” section. Be cautious of websites where the company does not have a legitimate address or only allows you to contact them using a generic form on one of their website pages.

If there is a telephone number, phone the number to verify there’s an actual business and check to make sure someone answers. These are better indications that there is less risk for you.

Look for terms and conditions and privacy statement

Does the website show their Terms and Conditions or a Privacy Statement? If so, read them to make sure they are reasonable. Also ensure that the website will not sell, distribute or divulge any information without your consent. If not, tread carefully.

Use a disposable email address

Using a disposable email address such as hotmail or gmail can help keep you more anonymous.

Keep your computer protected

Make sure that your computer’s anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are up to date.

Compliance with privacy legislation

Look for websites that indicate they comply with Provincial and Federal privacy legislation, such as PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act). The legislation on PIPEDA can be found here.

“Just deposit the money and keep your commission”

In this scam, the fraudster gives you a “job” where you are first asked to make a deposit into your bank account and then told to withhold an amount (a commission or wage to you) and mail a cheque for the balance to someone else.

In this scheme, your cheque clears from your account but the original cheque or money order deposited into your account bounces and you have no recourse as your “employer” disappears.
Typically you will get “hired” for these positions, often without an interview or any actual contact with the employer.

Avoid scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Phishing or brand spoofing emails

These types of emails occur when a perpetrator sends you authentic-looking emails, appearing to come from legitimate companies, in an effort to phish for personal or financial information.

These phish emails direct recipients to click on links that re-direct them to fraudulent or "spoofed" websites (websites that are very similar looking to the real ones). These sites are designed to fool people into believing that they are visiting a legitimate company website. Once on the fraudulent site, the email recipient is asked to log into their account and provide personal and/or financial information that is later used to commit fraud.

If there is a link in the phish email, run your mouse over the link. It will tell you what website you are actually being taken to, even if it appears that you are being directed to the real website.

If you receive such an email, delete it immediately and do not respond or take any action. Legitimate organizations do not contact their clients this way. In the past you could determine that these were phishing emails because they were generally unprofessional looking with obvious spelling mistakes, poor grammar or formatting. In the past few years, however, fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated and their emails and spoofed websites look very credible, making it more difficult to detect fraudulent sites. The safest stance to take is to never reply to emails asking you to change your password or emails requesting personal or financial information.

Referrals from friends

If someone contacts you saying they were referred to you by a friend, find out the name of the friend and then follow up with him or her to ensure they did make the referral.

Never pay to apply to a position

A legitimate employer or recruiting firm/staffing agency will never ask you to pay to apply to a position.

Also, be especially careful of companies promising you guaranteed interviews with companies if you pay them a fee (sometimes in the thousands of dollars).

Sign off after your session

It is important to sign off from your session after finishing with your account, especially when you are using a public computer.


If you are ever unsure of a website or a job opportunity, it’s best to use as much caution as possible. The old saying prevails “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
If you’ve been a victim of an online job fraud, you should contact the owners of the website immediately as well as the fraud squad of your local police department.
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