How to Avoid Illegal Recruitment when Applying Abroad

April 20, 2020  |  Unistaff

POEA illegal recruitment


Are you thinking of working abroad, but worried about making sure the whole process is secure? Don’t worry! Here’s our loaded guide to help you look out for and avoid getting tricked into illegal recruitment!


You have probably been thinking about how working abroad can give you better opportunities. A new job could provide a more attractive salary and benefits package. In contrast, you might have also heard about horror stories of other Filipinos. Sadly, some aspiring OFWs have been fooled by dishonest recruiters. They were promised jobs, but their recruiters disappeared when they’ve gotten what they wanted. As a result, these hopeful OFWs have lost their hard-earned money.



The demand for Filipino overseas workers has progressively increase year on year. Unfortunately, the number of applicants getting scammed by illegal recruiters has also grown. The best way to help combat this is awareness. The more you know about this scenario and their tactics, the better prepared you will be to act against these thieves.

The government reminds the public to be extra careful when going through applications for working abroad. Especially to those doing this for the first time. They do this through efforts made by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The POEA is responsible for monitoring the operations of recruitment agencies in the Philippines.

If you want to know more about the POEA, check out this article first before you dive deep into the subject of illegal recruitment.

As a recruitment agency, we’ve heard countless stories from new applicants about their past experiences, falling victims to illegal recruitment.

Here's an example of how this usually happens:

  1. Juan applies for an opportunity to work abroad through recruiter X.
  2. He qualifies for the job and gets called in for interview.
  3. He passes the interview.
  4. After several weeks into the process and while submitting documents, Juan is suddenly asked to pay a “processing fee". And recruiter X cannot provide a receipt for it.
  5. Juan did not know that the person who contacted him is not an authorized representative of recruiter X . Or recruiter X is not licensed by POEA to begin with.

If you look closely at the sample scenario, points 4 and 5 present clues on criminal practices.

Now, let’s begin the scam-prevention process by getting to know more about illegal recruitment.


What is Illegal Recruitment?


man accepting envelope in black and white

Officially, here’s what our Philippine Law says:

“Illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-license or non-holder of authority contemplated under Art 13 (F) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. (sec. 6, RA 8042).”


If that was too long and complicated, here's our simplified version:

It’s when somebody who is not an authorized representative of a licensed recruitment agency offers an applicant a job or a chance to work abroad and asks for a fee for these services.


Now that we know what illegal recruitment looks like, here are some ways we can spot it and avoid it right away!


How can I avoid Illegal Recruitment?

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) released a list of 10 reminders to ensure that aspiring and experienced OFWs do not become victims of illegal recruitment.


tips on how to avoid illegal recruitment


Be aware that some people get creative with their despicable practices! Let’s also take a look at the routes these fake recruiters take that can lead to illegal recruitment.


How do I know if it’s Illegal Recruitment?


Rappler made a helpful infographic about the 10 Ways You Could Spot Illegal Recruitment.

We, however, thought that it would be twice as helpful if you could bring something along with you as you inquire with your chosen agency.


We made a checklist for you!


Sharing is caring. Share this checklist with your friends so that you can all spot illegal recruiters right away!

POEA illegal recruitment checklist



Don’t be a victim! Avoid falling for these illegal practices. Make sure that you have done your research and have conducted your own investigation. Do not rush yourself into making any quick decisions. Understand the full process, and when something doesn’t look or feel right – always verify first! Use your security checklist!


We hope this helps you identify your best partner licensed agency. One that could support you in achieving your dreams of working abroad. It’s a tough road ahead, expect some challenges, but rest assured that you can always seek help along the way!

We are here to support you!


Whew. That was a lot of info! If you’re wondering how to remember it all, no worries. You can join our subscription so that you get updated with the latest news. Get equipped with the most essential information about vacancies in your current industry, recruitment processes, and your potential international employers.

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Unistaff Content Team

This article was put together by Unistaff's team of researchers, creative writers and content creators. We pride ourselves by publishing the most updated pieces of content in our blog section to enable you to make well informed decisions.

Universal Staffing Services, Incorporated

Universal Staffing Services Inc. (POEA License No. 35-LB-022019-R) has been a trusted International Permanent Staffing Firm for more than two decades, maintaining its prestige and reputation as one of the best in the country. Our source of pride comes from placing over 30,000 top-class professionals in the Gulf Region, Africa, South Asia, South-East Asia, United States, and Europe in Academic, Engineering, Skilled, Administrative, Hospitality, IT and Healthcare settings.

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