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Avoiding Job Scams

There are a lot of job scams out there, and many of them are very well prepared and sound very appealing. Many of them even steal the name, logo, and letterhead of a legitimate company and recreate their website in order to appear legitimate. They may have phone and fax numbers and mailing addresses.
They may post fraudulent job ads, contact victims through email or social media, or by telephone. They'll probably promise you an overseas or offshore job, huge paychecks, and even a large cash advance.
But all of them will try to get your money or steal your identity at some point.

There is a great deal of oil activity in the North Sea, Africa, and the Middle East, and there are a lot of companies with legitimate jobs to offer. However, caution must be used to avoid the hundreds of scam artists that target oilfield job seekers.

Never pay a fee to apply for a job.

Rule number one. If you don't want to get ripped off, don't give them your money.
A passport, work permits, and other documentation may be required for work in another country, and you may be required to pay for these; but these can almost always be obtained from within your own country. You should be suspicious if you are told that you must deal only with a certain company to obtain your documentation. If you are referred to another company that requests a fee from you, it's almost certainly the same con-artist running both 'companies'.
No legitimate oilfield company will charge you a fee or deposit to apply for a job.

Never provide your banking or credit card information to a potential employer

Back to rule number one, don't give them your money. If you hand out your financial information online, you'll end up broke.
Many North American companies pay their American and Canadian employees by directly depositing their pay into their bank accounts. If this is the case, you will have to provide your bank account information, but this should not be done until you are in their office or on their worksite. You'll also need to provide your SSN or SIN after you're hired.
Be absolutely certain that the company is legitimate before you provide any financial information. If you give your banking information to the wrong person, they'll empty your account for you. With the proper names and account numbers, it's easy for criminals to to print checks or fake authorization to withdraw your money.
There will probably never be a legitimate reason to give your credit card information to your employer, and certainly not before you're even hired.

Never send a copy of your passport

Don't even think about it.
If you send your passport information to the wrong person, it could be used to obtain credit cards, other identification, or even a replacement passport. A copy of your passport could end up being used to allow criminals to cross international borders using your name. For this reason it is illegal in some countries to provide anyone with a copy of your passport, except for a short list of government recognized officials.
Depending on the country, your employer will probably need to verify your identity and your eligibility to work in that country. You may need to show your passport and other personal documents to your employer and some may even want to make copies for their records. This might not seem so bad when you've been hired and you're sitting in their offices, but until then, people that ask for copies of your ID should make you very nervous.
There is NO legitimate reason for a potential employer to have a copy of your passport.

If it sounds too good to be true...

You should be suspicious of any job offer for a position that you are not qualified for, or for a salary that seems unrealistically high.

Legitimate companies have offices.

Most legitimate companies freely provide their street address and telephone number on their websites. In most cases, you'll have an interview either in the company's office or through a video call before you are offered a job. Many companies will interview you several times before offering you a job.
Hiring a new employee is a substantial investment for any company, but when the company needs to provide air travel, accommodations, and safety training, that expense gets very high.
No company is going to hire you based solely on email. This is especially true for overseas or offshore positions.

Most legitimate companies have websites and social media accounts.

Unless it's a very new company or a small oilfield service company, they've probably got a website and at least a couple of social media accounts.
If you can't find one, a simple search for the company name should at least turn up their office addresses and other information from oilfield related sites.

Watch out for free, web-based email addresses (@gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, etc.) in communications with companies. Scam artists use these because they're free, anonymous, and disposable.
Also, email addresses @technologist.com, @chemist.com, @accountant.com, @engineer.com, etc. are used almost exclusively by scam artists

If all contact with the company is through one of these email addresses, you should be very skeptical.
Email addresses associated with a company should almost always use the company's website domain name. (@companyname.com)

Most personnel managers can spell their own company name.

Many personnel managers refuse to hire someone with spelling or grammatical errors in their resumé. Being able to properly and effectively communicate in English is a requirement for many jobs, and certainly for someone in charge of hiring people from English speaking nations.
A job ad, job offer, or other correspondence from the company that is ridden with spelling and grammatical mistakes is a red flag.

Recruiters charge the company, not the job hunter.

Oilfield companies pay recruiting companies (head-hunters) a lot of money to find quality employees. You should never have to pay a recruiting company to apply for a job.

Employment agencies charge the job hunter.

Most reputable employment agencies will not charge you unless they successfully find you a job. You should thoroughly investigate the agency if you are thinking about paying them in advance for their services. If people have complaints about the agency, you won't find them in the testimonials on their website. Use Google to find reviews of their service by independent websites. You should also read and understand their guarantee, the service that you're buying, and their terms of service. You likely have very little recourse if you don't get a job.
Nobody can guarantee that they'll find jobs for everyone.

There are no entry level overseas jobs.

As a general rule, countries protect their jobs and their workforce by requiring that oil companies employ local workers for all unskilled labor and much of the skilled labor. Even if they could, why would a company fly an inexperienced worker half way around the world when a local worker could do the same entry level job for half the pay?
If you want to work overseas, you need experience first.

Do your homework

For foreign companies, you can usually easily verify the company's existence and contact information using Google to find the company's website. Don't rely on a link in an email or job posting.
If you are offered a job by a large international company, you should contact their head office to confirm that the person that offered you a job actually works for the company. It is common for scam artist to use the names of legitimate companies to provide legitimacy to their scam. Companies are very aware of this problem, and should have no problem verifying information for you.
You can also contact the country's consulate office to confirm the legitimacy of the company.
If you still can't determine whether or not a company is legitimate, simply move on. There's lots of work out there.

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