Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Hands holding a resume and pencil on top of an open laptop

Use Job Search Sites Safely and Effectively

Online job search sites are great tools for finding employment. But some job postings and search sites aren’t legitimate. They’re scams designed to steal your money or your identity.

When you search for work online, be sure to use reputable websites, protect your personal information, and know how to spot a scam.

The Better Business Bureau reported a significant rise in job scams during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many businesses were forced to close. More people found themselves unemployed and looking for work online. And scammers took advantage of the situation.

Job scammers use advanced technology to pose as real, well-known companies. They create fake phone numbers, email addresses, and company websites­—or they clone real ones. They post fake jobs and official-looking fake employment forms, and conduct bogus interviews online.

Several types of job scams are common:

  • Job scams that steal your time ask you to work for free for a trial period. And they disappear when it’s time for you to be paid.
  • Job scams that steal your identity convince you to share sensitive personal or financial information.
  • Job scams that steal your money persuade you to cash fake cheques or to pay for training and equipment for jobs that don’t exist.
  • Job scams that involve you in criminal activity ask you to perform risky financial transactions or to reship merchandise bought with stolen credit cards.

The Better Business Bureau reports that job seekers aged 25 to 34 are most likely to be targeted by scammers and most likely to take the bait. But anyone can be a victim.

Tips for staying safe

Scammers are very good at what they do. And they can be very convincing. Everyone needs to take precautions:

  1. Do your research. Follow these steps to make sure the job you’re applying for is legitimate.
  2. Trust your feelings. If a job offer or a job posting seems suspicious, do more checking. Or get some advice from someone you trust.
  3. Don’t give into pressure to make snap decisions or to share sensitive information.

Warning signs that can signal a scam

  • The job posting seems suspicious. The job description is vague, the contact info doesn’t check out, or the salary is too good to be true.
  • You’re asked to pay for training or equipment.
  • You’re asked to work for free.
  • You’re offered a job on-the-spot, without a proper interview.
    • Legitimate companies generally meet with you in person before they hire you. COVID-19 has made online interviews more common, but beware of companies that don’t require an interview at all. Or companies that interview only through platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or WhatsApp. If you’re offered a job immediately after an online interview, that’s a sign it could be a scam.
  • There is no contract of employment.
    • Legitimate companies usually have formal recruitment and hiring processes. They’re not likely to hire you on a handshake instead of a written contract.

      TIP: Be extra careful if someone you don’t know has emailed or texted you about a possible job.

      In 80% of the job scams reported to the Better Business Bureau, contact was initiated by the scammer—typically by email or text. Scammers may have found you because you posted your resumé online. Or you may have responded to a fake job ad.

  • You’re asked for your banking details. Or you’re asked for your driver’s licence or Social Insurance Number.
    • Legitimate companies typically don’t ask for this kind of personal info until after you’ve been hired.
  • You’re asked to perform a financial transaction on behalf of the company.
    • This might involve sending gift cards or wire transfers.
  • You’re asked to cash a cheque and transfer some or all of the funds to another party. Or you receive a cheque for more money than you were expecting, and you’re asked to send back the difference.
    • The cheques are fake. Legitimate companies don’t overpay their employees and ask them to wire money somewhere else.
  • You’re asked to work from home, repackaging and reshipping packages that are sent to you.
    • Chances are that you’re reshipping stolen goods or merchandise that was purchased with stolen credit cards. A Better Business Bureau study found that 65% of fake online job postings related to reshipping scams.

Use job search websites wisely

Choosing the right website for your job search increases your chance of finding jobs you like. And getting hired!

TIP: Check out this article for listings of reputable job search sites. Follow the links to explore what they offer. Or check out alis’s Alberta Job Postings page. It’s safe, current, and easy to use. You can adjust the filters to find the right job for you. 

Dos and don’ts for job search websites

  1. Make sure the website is legitimate and well known. Stick to websites you’ve heard of in the media or websites recommended by people you trust. Workopolis and Indeed are 2 commonly used sites, but there are many other options. You can also look for job search sites operated by professional associations or industry groups.
  2. Choose websites that post jobs that match your interests and skills. You’ll have a better chance of finding a job you like.
  3. Use websites that are easy to navigate. If you can’t find your way around a site, neither can legitimate employers who want to post jobs.
  4. Don’t use websites that require you to register before you can see a full job description.
  5. Never pay to post your resumé or to access a job posting. If you're asked to pay money to get a job, it's likely a scam.

Make sure the job is legitimate

Scammers can pose as legitimate companies with legitimate websites. Even on reputable job search sites, you still need to be careful.

If you find a job you’d like to apply for, make sure the job and the company are legitimate:

  1. Do an online search to confirm that the company exists.
  2. Check the job page on the company’s website and make sure the job is posted there. Or call the company to confirm that it’s hiring.
  3. Confirm that the posting provides valid contact information. For example, check that the email address follows the company’s standard format. Legitimate businesses don’t typically use Gmail, Yahoo, or other free email services.
  4. Watch out for email addresses that include misspelled or spoofed company names. For example, "" or "" instead of ""
  5. Make sure the job ad includes a detailed job description. If it seems that anyone at all could do the job, it’s probably a scam.
  6. Beware of job postings claiming to be “totally legitimate” or “scam free.”
  7. If the ad includes a salary range, make sure it’s not too good to be true. Check alis for info on typical wages and salaries in Alberta.
  8. Search the name of the company and the word “scam.”
Was this page useful?