Job scams

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You'll probably have lots of different jobs in your working life. Most of your bosses will do the right thing by you, but some might be dodgy.

This page tells you what to look out for and what to do if you think you've been sucked in by a job scam.

Who is vulnerable?

Anyone looking for a job can be vulnerable to scams. However, dodgy employers tend to target:

  • Young people
  • Unemployed people
  • International students
  • Travellers on working holidays

They target these groups because they think that they're the most na├»ve about their rights, the most desperate for work and the least likely to dob them in.

How to spot a job scam

Most job scams are self-employment or business opportunities designed to take your money rather than make you money. Clues that a job is really a scam include:

  • Claiming that you can make large amount of money quickly and easily
  • Talking about working from home
  • Asking for money up front
  • Insisting on unpaid trial work

Common scams

Here are some common job scams to look out for, and some advice on how to deal with them. A lot of this advice can apply to all kinds of job scams, not just the ones listed.

Unpaid trial work

Unpaid trail work involves working for a period of time without being paid, with the promise that you will get a job after the trial is over. It is different from voluntary work - when you are a volunteer it is understood that you won't end up with a paid job.

Be very wary about agreeing to an unpaid trial with a commercial business. There is no guarantee that you'll get the job after the trial period finishes. A JobWatch (new window) survey found that only 13 percent of workers were offered a paid job after a trial.

Remember, everybody is entitled to be paid for trial work.

Door-to-door sales

Normally the ads for these jobs don't ask for door-to-door sales people. Instead they use words like 'sales' or 'paid training'. If you're thinking of taking a door-to-door sales job, make sure it's legitimate. Ask questions like:

  • Do you have to purchase any products?
  • What's the average commission per employee?
  • What's the exact commission rate?
  • Is a retainer taken out of the commission?

If you don't think the money is enough for the work you need to do, or you have to pay any money up front, chances are it's a scam.

Modelling and casting agencies

These jobs might be advertised in newspapers, or someone might approach you on the street, in shopping centres, or at a nightclub.

Often they ask you for money in return for registration and a portfolio. If you're considering applying for one of these positions:

  • Get the company's full details (street address, landline phone number - not a mobile - and the full name of the person you are dealing with) - if they won't give it to you, something isn't right
  • Don't sign any contract or agreement without getting legal advice first
  • Remember that most reputable agencies don't need a joining fee
  • Don't go to an interview alone - if you're under 18, take a parent or guardian

What can I do about job scams?

Besides being careful about the jobs that you apply for, if you think a business is dodgy you can get in touch with JobWatch (new window).

You can also check out JobWatch's 'Where to Get Help' section for a list of other organisations that can help with job scams and dodgy jobs.

You'll also find more information on our Misleading Job Ads page and our Employment Rights section.