Centred Content

Dear Joanna,

I applied for a job posting listed on one of those general websites for the position of a customer service representative. I immediately received an email from the owner of the company with an employment contract attached for me to complete, sign and return by email. The form requested all of my personal details, including my social insurance number. I admit that I was excited to be offered a job! And it came after years of rejection and frustration with my hundreds of job applications especially as I am a job seeker who requires accommodations for my developmental disability. However, I am concerned about providing my personal details to a total stranger without an interview at least. What should I do?

Signed: Fraud Alert (FA)

Centred Content

Dear FA,

I’m so glad you contacted me with this question. The question of how to determine if you are experiencing a job posting scam or a real job is important. Victoria Ghouchandra, coordinator of Reena’s Supported Employment Service and Summer Transition Employment programs for youth with developmental disabilities, has offered important warning signs and techniques below to determine if the employment opportunity is legitimate or not

1. Be very careful.

This is the first step when you are applying for jobs online, or even in person. There is no shortage of identity-theft, scams, rip-offs and illegitimate companies and job postings in the city and on the internet. It’s impossible to monitor so many people and places. I would always check out your concerns or the actual job posting with your mentor, job coach or a professional in this field before you apply, so you can prevent anything bad happening. Victoria warns never to NEVER EVER provide a social insurance number or your personal details (by email, telephone or social media – or any which way) until a job offer is given to you in writing, accepted and the company is verified. Plus companies will never send a job offer before an interview or phone conversation at the very minimal.

2. Research research research.

Is this company and owner real? Ask yourself these questions as you do your research to see if this organization is legitimate. Is there a website for the company advertising their position? Can you Google the company and owner? Is there an address and contact details? Is there any information on social media, especially LinkedIn? If not, then it might be a scam. I only apply for jobs with legitimate and comprehensive websites with full disclosure of their company name, location, telephone, emails, and a list of contact people. I would also Google the address to make sure it’s real. Look for any reports of negative news and reputations.

3. Analyze the job details.

Again, it’s important that the job description be transparent, clear and informative, with an idea of the compensation package. An actual salary amount might not be listed, but you should have an idea of the payment structure. For example, does the posting indicate a base and commission with the customer service role, or is it an hourly wage?

4. Asking for money and more.

The website Scam Warmers presents the following red flags that confirm that the job and company are frauds. DO NOT PAY A PENNY TO ANY EMPLOYER before getting the job. Avoid jobs that ask you to use your personal bank account, to open a new bank account, to use your credit card, mail, cash a check or money.

5. Check the company’s references.

You have every right to ask the company or employer for references. Request a list of other employees or customers. Then, contact the references to ask about the company. If the company refuses to provide references, then stay away from this opportunity.

6. Beware of quick rich fixes.

Any job that promises getting rich fast or guarantees tons of money is one that you should stay away from. Nothing happens by magic or quickly, whether it’s a job offer or losing weight. This all takes time and is a process.

I really hope that I have saved you from this scammer. You deserve to work for a legitimate company with fair compensation and a healthy workplace.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org