Job search scams are fraudulent activities targeting individuals seeking employment. They exploit job seekers by promising lucrative jobs or work-from-home opportunities in exchange for personal information, money or both.

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Job search scams and phishing emails

The University of Ottawa uses secured portals such as uOZone to post job opportunities for students. The recruitment and formal hiring processes would never be initiated by email.
The Career Corner promotes employment events, information sessions and career development workshops to students. Please note that no jobs will be shared via email.
For more information on cybersecurity and phishing emails

Upfront payment

Scammers may ask for money upfront for any reason, including application fees, background checks, training materials or equipment. Legitimate employers don’t require you to pay to apply or work for them.

Guaranteed employment

Beware of job postings or offers that guarantee employment or promise unrealistic results. No legitimate employer will guarantee you a job without a thorough application and interview process.

Vague job descriptions and poor grammar and spelling

Scam job postings often lack specific details about the job role, responsibilities, qualifications and requirements. Job listings may also contain grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and awkward language.

Unsolicited job offers

Be cautious if you receive job offers via email, social media or text message without having applied for a position or interacted with the company.

High-pressure tactics

Scammers may create a sense of urgency by pressuring you to make quick decisions or take immediate action. Legitimate employers provide reasonable timeframes for considering job offers.

Requests for personal information

Be wary if a job application or employer requests sensitive personal information like your social insurance number, bank account details or copies of official documents before you’ve been hired. Legitimate employers can only collect such information once a formal job offer has been accepted.

Generic email addresses

Scammers often use generic email addresses, such as Gmail or Yahoo addresses, instead of professional company email domains. Verify the legitimacy of the email address and sender by hovering your cursor over the email in the From field. If the email address doesn’t seem to match the organization or appears to be a personal email, then it’s probably a scam. 

Lack of company contact information

Legitimate job postings will include clear and accurate contact information, including a company’s physical address, phone number and official email address.

Unclear interview details

Confirm the legitimacy of an interview by verifying the location against the company’s official office address and be cautious if the interview location isn’t at a place of work.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Research the company: Verify that the company and its postings are legitimate by checking its website, contacting it directly and looking for reviews or complaints.
  • Be cautious with personal information: Avoid sharing sensitive information like your Social Insurance Number, bank account details or copies of official documents unless you’ve accepted a job offer. 
  • Never send money: Legitimate employers never ask you for money. 
  • Use reputable job search platforms: Stick to well-known job search websites and platforms where job listings are vetted and monitored for scams.
  • Educate yourself: Stay informed about common job search scams and be aware of the latest tactics scammers use to target job seekers.
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