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Ways to Avoid Job Scams

10 September 2023
With the number of job scams on the rise, there are a few things you should look out for before signing up with a supposed recruitment agency.

South Africa’s unemployment rate is hovering just above 27%, with Stats SA’s latest figures putting the number of unemployed South Africans at around 6.1 million. And with the cost of living continuously rising, many job seekers are desperate to find any work that could help make ends meet. Sadly, criminals are making the most of people’s desperation in the form of job scams, not only leaving job seekers without a job but also out of pocket.

With the number of job scams on the rise, there are a few things you should look out for before signing up with a supposed recruitment agency. However, the most important thing you should always keep in mind is to never pay a recruitment company to perform any of the following services:

  • Register on their database
  • Search for a job online
  • An interview with the recruiter
  • Training before you are hired


NB! According to the Skills Development Act, charging a job seeker a fee to be placed in a job is prohibited. Any upfront fees to be represented by a recruiter is also unlawful.


  • Check their credentials. All legitimate recruitment companies must be registered with the Department of Labour. You can ask the agency to show you their registration certificate or you can contact the Department and check with them directly.
  • Most established agencies are also voluntary members of the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO). You can check whether a company is registered with APSO here.
  • Nothing is guaranteed. No recruitment company can promise you a guaranteed job. A recruiter serves as a middleman between applicants and the hiring company and does not have any say in who gets placed where. 
  • Training is provided by the hiring company. Shady recruitment agencies often ask applicants to pay for training before they are hired or even attend a formal interview. Training is always provided free of charge by the employer and usually happens only after you’ve been hired.
  • Unsolicited offers. Scammers often send out bulk emails or SMSes in the hopes of grabbing a few job seekers. If you don’t recognise the agency name, or you never registered with a recruitment agency, it’s best to ignore these messages.
  • Don’t click that link. Unsuspecting job seekers are often asked to fill out an online form (usually in the form of a link sent via SMS or email) which requires the applicant to fill in sensitive information such as your ID number, physical address and even banking details. Again, if you don’t recognise the agency, don’t fill in the form.
  • No banking details. Often, scammers will say they need your banking or financial info to perform credit checks and get references. This is not the case and it is illegal for any recruitment agency to ask you for this kind of information.
  • Check the spelling. If a job ad, email, SMS or any other written content from a supposed recruiter is badly written, you should be cautious.
  • Verify claims. If a recruitment company says they represent a specific company, don’t just take them at their word. Call the mentioned company and check whether they are indeed working with the recruiter before committing to anything.
  • Read up. Before agreeing to anything, check whether the recruitment company has an online presence and read up on the company. Also check for any reviews on the agency.
  • Meet in person. In many cases, sham recruiters don’t physically meet applicants. Instead, they will send you an SMS or instant message and conduct an interview via text.


NB! Always meet a recruiter or potential employer in a public place or at official offices and let friends and family know where you’re going before meeting someone.



If you are looking for work beyond South Africa’s borders, you need to be extra-vigilant in an unfamiliar space. Only make use of established companies with a proven track record. Check the company’s social media pages, speak to others about their experiences with the company and read online reviews. Also ensure you understand the various legal requirements regarding employment in a foreign country.

If you come across a job scam, do not respond to it and report it as soon as possible. If the company is advertising on a legit careers site, you can also report the company to the relevant website as well as the police.

Sources: APSO | Department of Labour