Do’s and Dont’s: How to Avoid Illegal Recruitment

Now that you’ve gotten an idea of what is illegal recruitment and you can identify what are illegal recruiters in the Philippines, it’s time to know how you can avoid these types of scams in the country. Here we list the do’s and dont’s so you can be safe when looking for a job abroad.

Also Read: List of POEA Benefits Programs and Services for OFWs

Filipinos want to go abroad for work to help their families in the financial aspect. There are better work opportunities abroad and a higher salary. Others want to go abroad but they are discouraged because of the stories they have heard about maltreatment to the OFWs.

Well, this happens because of illegal recruitment. OFWs who were beaten and suffered abroad without any help from their agencies are the victims of illegal recruitment. Those OFWs who cannot go back to the Philippines because of fake visas are also victims of illegal recruiters.

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avoid illegal recruitment

So, to avoid these or to lessen the cases of illegal recruitment, what should we do?

Be wary of illegal recruiters.

But how?

Know the tell-tale signs of illegal recruitment.

Do’s and Dont’s: Avoid Illegal Job Agencies in the Philippines

The POEA website has listed 10 do’s and dont’s for your reference. Here are ways to help you guide in not getting scammed by illegal recruiters.

Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry. These steps might not 100% guarantee your safety but they will lessen your chances of becoming one of the victims of scam agencies.

1. Do not apply at recruitment agencies not licensed by POEA.

One of the easiest ways to avoid illegal recruitment is to not apply at agencies that are not licensed by the POEA. Only apply through agencies that are authorized and have been verified by the POEA. This way, you can be sure that you’re working with a legitimate agency and that they will be able to provide you with proper documentation and support while you’re working abroad.

2. Do not deal with licensed agencies without job orders.

POEA job orders are jobs from abroad that were processed through the Philippines government and are only issued to licensed agencies. So it is important to make sure that the agency has a job order from a legitimate employer. This will help to ensure that you are not being scammed by an illegal recruiter.

3. Do not deal with any person who is not an authorized representative of a licensed agency.

You should only deal with people who are authorized representatives of licensed agencies. Anyone who offers recruitment services to you must be able to show you proof that he or she is a legitimate agent. Check the agency’s permit at the POEA website.

Ask for written job orders, contracts of employment and deployment terms, as well as copies of the passport, visa if needed, work permits and other relevant documents of

4. Do not transact business outside the registered address of the agency. If the recruitment is conducted in the province, check if the agency has a provincial recruitment authority.

The agency’s registered address should be the one where you do all of your transactions. If they’re conducting recruitment outside that province, make sure to get in touch with their local offices before doing so; otherwise, it could cause some problems for both parties involved!

5. Do not pay more than the allowed placement fee. Placement fees should be equivalent to one month’s salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs.

In the event of having placement fees, make sure to be aware of the costs and do not pay more than the required amount. Also ask for supporting documents and request for an official receipt after you make the payment.

6. Do not pay any placement fee unless you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt.

Some illegal recruiters might ask you to pay the placement fee before getting your job contract or even receiving your visa. Don’t do it! Make sure that you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt from the agency before paying anything.

7. 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.

The POEA has also advised Filipinos not to fall for unsolicited text messages, junk faxes or emails that ask you to pay or send money in order to process your visa. This is a sign of illegal recruitment that can easily put you at risk.

8. Do not deal with training centers and travel agencies, which promise overseas employment.

If you’re being offered a job from a training center or travel agency, think twice. These are often used as fronts for illegal recruitment agencies that can scam you into paying money for nothing in return.

9. Do not accept a tourist visa.

The POEA has discouraged Filipinos from accepting a tourist visa because it is illegal to work overseas without a valid employment visa.

10. Do not deal with fixers.

If you meet someone who promises he can fix the processing of your papers, make sure to report him to the POEA as soon as possible. Fixers usually ask for a certain sum of money and then don’t do anything for you anyway.

An important way to avoid illegal recruitment is to always try and work with an authorized agency that has been verified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). By working with a legitimate company and job order, you can be pretty sure that everything will go smoothly and that any documentation or support needed will actually be provided.

How to Spot Illegal Recruitment

Here’s a simplified version of how you can spot illegal recruitment in the Philippines

  • Agency is unlicensed and unauthorized by POEA.
  • Asks for placement/other fees but cannot issue an official receipt.
  • Promises faster deployment through tourist visas. Under a tourist visa, you cannot legally work in your host country.
  • Claims POEA processing fee is not needed. Usually, the recruiter claims direct contact with an employer abroad.
  • Requires medical and training certificates without guaranteed employment.
  • Conducts recruitment activity in malls, restaurants, houses. Agencies cannot recruit outside a registered business address.
  • Charges over one month’s salary for recruitment fees. RA 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act) limits the allowable recruitment fees to a one-month salary.
  • Incomplete and unclear information on job placement.
  • False employment contract and/or working visa. All job orders must be approved by POEA.
  • Asks for referrals in exchange for discounts on fees.

Security Secret Checklist

If this is hard to digest, here is a checklist for you provided by UniStaff Inc.

  Can you show me your POEA license?
  Can you give me an official receipt for the placement fee and all the other fees?
  Can we make the deployment faster and just use a tourist visa?
  Am I required to pay the POEA processing fee, OWWA membership and other processing expenses?
  Should I submit medical and training certificates even without a job offer and guarantee for employment?
  Do you conduct recruitment activities in places like malls, restaurants or any residential area?
  Is the placement fee higher than one month’s salary?
  Can you give me the complete details and information about this job placement?
  Can you show me the employment contract, working visa, and proof that this job order is approved by the POEA?
  If I refer you to other applicants, can I get a discount on the placement fees?

POEA’s Guide to Avoid Illegal Recruitment

  • Know first the basic information of the agency you’ve been applying to (license of the agency, name of the recruiter and the employer’s details). Search the details in the POEA’s website. If none of these were shown at the search result, then it is illegal recruitment.
  • If the agency is licensed but something is suspicious like they are asking for a unreasonable placement fee, then contact POEA and confirm the agency’s details.
  • Do not settle for a tourist visa and avoid fixers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers about how you can avoid illegal recruitment in the Philippines plus some tips:

1. Do I need to pay the placement fee?

Yes. You need to pay up to a month’s salary abroad.

2. What are the fees one has to pay when working overseas?

One must spend for document requirements like passport, Police/NBI/Barangay Clearance, birth certificate, medical certificate, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG contribution.

3. When should one pay the placement fee?

The employee can pay the placement fee after they sign a contract.

4. Do I need to pay for the processing fee?

No, the employer will shoulder the processing fee.

5. If we discover the company recruiting us is illegal, can the agents connected with the illegal recruitment agency be included in my complaint?

Yes. You may provide the agent’s contact information as well as the agent’s recruitment firm for examination after filing a complaint with the POEA.

6. If I am directly hired by a company and not an overseas recruitment firm, do I still need to go through the POEA?

Yes, all direct hires need to go to the POEA for verification of the following documents before working overseas: employment contract and work visa/permit.

7. How can we be sure the companies that we are applying for are legal and safe?

You can check and search the agency on the POEA’s website. You can also contact the POEA’s contact number if you wanted to make sure.

8. What if the job offer given to me upon the signing of my contract is different from the actual work that I will be doing in the country? Is this legal?

It is illegal. You can request contract termination and you can file a complaint to POEA.

9. What if the recruiter offers a tourist visa?

Deny it since it is illegal. It is a tourist–worker scheme in which workers leave the country as tourists but in reality, is being deployed as workers abroad.

10. Does a recruitment agency have the right to hold my passport even if my deployment did not push through and no contract was signed?

No, the agency does not have the right to hold your passport if no contract was signed.

Video: How Filipinos can Avoid Illegal Jobs

Every day, about 6,000 Filipinos leave to work overseas. OFWs and their families spend large amounts of money and time securing that job abroad while they are at it in hopes for a better life back home with loved ones who need them most!

The video below provides a brief introduction about OFWs and ways to guide an aspiring OFW to avoid illegal recruitment:

Despite the fact that OFWs are often called “modern-day heroes,” migrant workers continue to be victims of illegal recruitment.

If people want to have a better life, they can join either a legal employer or an illegally-managed organization. But only one of these will work out in the end.

If you are worried about your safety, report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Additional Reminders

  • Always check if the agency or company you’re applying to is licensed by the POEA – you can do this by visiting their website or contacting the agency directly.
  • Do not pay any placement fees before you’ve signed a contract and be aware of what these fees should cover.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different fees you’ll need to pay when working overseas and make sure the employer will shoulder them.
  • Make sure the job offer is legit by checking if it corresponds with the position and country you’re applying for. If it doesn’t, or if something seems suspicious, report it to the POEA.
  • Ask the agency or company you’re applying to for proof that they’re authorized to recruit overseas.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your potential employer when they call you.
  • Make sure the job offer is legit by checking if it corresponds with the position and country you’re applying for.


Remember not to pay any recruitment fees until after receiving a signed contract from the employer so be wary when answering questions about payment on phone calls – always verify beforehand! You can also ask them for proof that they are authorized recruiters overseas by providing you with their license number and certificate of registration, among other things. If there are any red flags during this process then we recommend contacting

Be vigilant and be wary of illegal recruiters. Read all the information above for the guide on how to avoid illegal recruitment. Remember, an illegal recruiter can promise you the moon and the stars but will only end up delivering heartache and pain. Be safe, be smart, and be informed.

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