How to check fake or illegal recruitment agencies

James Ryan Jonas

Do you know how many OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are there around the world? According to the Population Reference Bureau, around 11% of the Philippine population or roughly 11 million Filipinos are working as OFWs. This number keeps on increasing as more and more Filipinos seek greener pastures outside of the country.
But there are several Filipinos who apply for work abroad who also end up as victims of fake recruitment agencies. Everyday, hundreds — probably even thousands — are duped by false promises of overseas employment.
How can you check if an agency offering a job abroad is legal or licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA)?
One simple way to do this is to check the POEA list of Philippine recruitment agencies.
Take note of two things in the list: (1) the Status of the employment agency and (2) the License Validity.
With regard to Status, be wary of agencies whose current standing with the POEA are Delisted, Cancelled, Preventive Suspension, or Forever Banned. Several clients in the past probably encountered problems with them and it would be risky if you transact with them now.
Although those with Good Standing status are reputable at present, there is no reason to fully trust these companies from keeping this status forever. That’s why it pays to be vigilant and cautious when dealing with employment agencies. Inquiring with the POEA about the latest status of your employment agency and whether there are pending cases against them can help you identify problems before they crop up.
The License Validity tells you the duration of a company’s license registration with the POEA. Don’t deal with those with expired licenses because, technically, they are not allowed to operate legally. If you’re transacting with an agency with an expiring license, inquire if they are already renewing it. Double-check this with the POEA.
Here are a few more tips how not to become a victim of illegal recruiters.
1. Do not deal with any person who is not an authorized representative of a licensed agency.
2. Do not transact business outside the registered address of the agency. If recruitment is conducted in the province, check if the agency has a provincial recruitment authority.
3. Do not pay more than the allowed placement fee. It should be equivalent to one month salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs.
4. Do not pay any placement fee unless you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt.
5. Do not deal with training centers and travel agencies, which promise overseas employment.
6. Do not accept a tourist visa.
7. Do not deal with fixers.
8. Do not be enticed by ads or brochures requiring you to reply to a Post Office (P.O.) Box, and to enclose payment for processing of papers.
With the tips above, we hope you won’t become the next victim of illegal recruiters.
See also: POEA warns UK job applicants vs. new internet scam

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.