Thursday 24 April 2014

Beware of TEFL scams

Newbies often ask how they can tell if a job or a TEFL cert is a scam. The simple answer is that if it seems to good to be true, it is. While they are cushy jobs out there, newbies likely won't be able to land these without the required qualifications, experience, and know-how. If you're interested in teaching abroad, you should do a bit of research first. So how do you know if it's a scam?
  • A big tip off is if they ask you to send them money. I'm not talking about paying the embassy to get a visa, the hospital for a medical check up, or the airlines for your flights. I'm talking about when the company asks YOU to pay THEM. The only legit reason that you should pay is in the case of international school jobs. Their recruitment fairs often require you to pay. They are well publicised and you should have no trouble finding out if they're legit or not. You can find a list of these at the article, international schools.
  • A second way of telling if it's a scam if they offer a fantastic salary. Let's face it, English teachers aren't going to get rich. So if you're offered an astronomical figure from a no-name school, it's probably a scam. As mentioned before, there are those great jobs with huge salaries, few hours, and long vacations, but you're going to need a couple years experience and advanced qualifications, such as a masters degree or TEFL diploma.
  • Another tip off is spelling and grammar mistakes. Of course, non-native speakers may make a couple mistakes. Native speakers may leave out words or have typos, but if it's over the top, beware.
  • Nigeria, kings, queens, princeses, princesses, wealthy widows, and weathly widowers: these should all be avoided like the plague.
  • Generic emails, such as gmail, yahoo, or hotmail. Again, there are legit organisations that use these. But you'll have to be careful.
  • Fake contact info, such as fake phone numbers, websites, emails or addresses. Some scammers will use legit language school names, but fake emails. Use google maps, or email the actual language school. Some places, like Wall Street Institute even have a page warning against fake job offers.
  • If they want personal details, such as your bank details or social security number, you should be running the other way. Some people get scared off if an institute asks for their passport details. However, if you're going to need a visa, they're going to need your passport info sometime or another.
  • If you're sending scans of your degrees, photo, transcripts, references, or anything else, you might want to consider putting a watermark across it that says "Copy" or "For Application Purposes Only".

Think you've found a scam? Report it. You can contact the Federal Trade Commission at or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). In addition, there are international agencies such as ICPEN that handle cross-border/international internet fraud. (Thanks to for this info.) Those are some of the main ways to see if you're dealing with scammers. You can read more tips at warning signs of bad schools.


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