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How to Avoid Employment Scams in Canada

Going to Work, Sydney, Australia

I was a French teacher for the federal government for four years. Once day, I was having lunch in on the Statistic Canada campus and I was approached by two guys. They introduced themselves and explained there were “working here” and took an interest in the papers I was grading. We chatted a bit and they mentioned they were recruiting people to work on a summer project. Because I was on a federal government campus and because the government does hire students most summers, there was nothing out of the ordinary. They took my cell phone number and said they would follow up.

I got a call back the following week. The person was very insistent on meeting me but extremely vague when it came to the job description. Eventually, he admitted he did not work for Stats Canada but for a private company. I pushed for information and eventually learned the job was one of these “multi-level marketing opportunities” that involved paying for training and for products.

I was mad. Mad at me because I’m usually pretty suspicious and never doubted for a moment they were working for the federal government, and mad at the two “recruiters” who misrepresented themselves.

Finding a job is not easy and job-seekers are usually under time and financial constraints. Many illegal and barely legal businesses take advantage of that fact.

I already talked about job immigration scams and how sneaky and dishonest scammers can be. But unfortunately, even once in Canada with a work visa, you have to watch your back.

As a general rule, never ever pay to get a job. Sounds logic (why would anyone pay to work?) but some “recruitment agencies” charge job-seekers. They usually use a form of advance fee fraud and should not be trusted, no matter how great the job they are invariably promising is.

Classifieds are still a popular way of looking for job opportunities. But beware of these “work from home, do nothing and make a million bucks in a week!” offers. You guessed it, it’s too good to be true. Scammers charge to hire you (“training fees”), to get you started (“equipment fees”) and pay very little in terms of commissions. Legitimate offers do exist (or should exist) but make sure the company is legit. You may want to read helpful tips about scams in employment services.

Watch out for multi-level marketing schemes and pyramidal schemes. These business models are no sustainable and only the people on top of the pyramid actually make money. These companies are typically very pushy and hire just about anyone. They advertise for “sales opportunities” and couldn’t care less about your resume. In fact, some of them get in touch claiming you applied for a position you never actually apply for. This happens a lot when you upload your resume on websites such as Monster.ca. These businesses mostly want to hire you because they get a commission for each person who joins the pyramid, that’s all.

When applying for jobs, remember that you don’t have to provide all of your personal information until you actually get a proper offer. In other words, don’t give out your SIN number, banking information, security clearance, etc., to every single prospective employer.

Finally, get familiar with local labour laws and employment standards. This includes health and safety regulations, as well as employees’ rights and responsibilities. This is both a federal and a provincial matter, so you should check your provincial Ministry of Labour for specific rules applying to the province you are working in. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of newcomers who may not be familiar with each province’s minimum wage, as well as regulations regarding sick leave, breaks and public holidays.

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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