Avoiding TEFL scams

The great majority of TEFL employers are genuine, reputable businesses. But the TEFL profession, like any other, attracts its fair share of disreputable individuals seeking to exploit prospective teachers for financial gain. It is therefore important to be aware of some of the scam warning signs to look out for when searching for a job.

Employers requesting money
Most reputable employers do not ask for money from applicants “up front” for any reason. One of the most common requests of scammers is to ask for money to pay for visa applications or other paperwork.

Offers which seem too good to be true
If you see an employer offering a salary of $3000 in a country where others are offering $800, then it probably is too good to be true.

No interview or contract
Be very wary of any employer who offers you a job without speaking to you first, or expects you to accept a job without seeing a contract.

Very poor English
If the standard of English in the advert is blatantly bad this is often a sign that the person who wrote it was not able to ask a native speaker for help. If the employer is an English language school, you have to wonder why this is the case.

Poor website imitations and strange domain name extensions
Scammers often buy domain names with extensions such as .tl (East Timor) or .tk (a free domain extension) to create poor imitations of a genuine school’s website. A genuine school in the UK, for example, will normally have a UK domain extension (such as .co.uk or .org.uk), not a domain extension from East Timor or Norfolk Island.

Phone numbers or email addresses used in previous scams
A quick internet search for the phone number or email address in the advert (or other details like an individual’s name) sometimes shows that it has been used before in another scam.

Strange addresses or postcodes
A couple of examples are the best way to illustrate this:
– A university in Cameroon advertises its address as “Worldwide, Niagara Falls”
– A supposed employer in London adds a postcode of “M1K 5DA” – not a London postcode… not even a valid British postcode.

The most important thing is to do your research before accepting any offer of employment. Talk to other teachers, look in TEFL forums on this site and others, do a thorough internet search for the name of the school, the contact person, the contact email address or phone number.

We strongly advise against sending any documents containing sensitive information such as your passport number until you are sure that the employer is genuine.

If you are at all concerned about any job advert on Eslbase, please contact us immediately.

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