Home / How to Avoid TEFL Scams and Bad Employers

Unfortunately, many want to exploit newly-qualified EFL teachers eager to begin their first teaching job. Regardless of industry, practising caution while providing information online is always prudent. While it is fair to be concerned about TEFL scams, the reality is that there are few in comparison to the number of legitimate work opportunities accessible. Nonetheless, it’s vital to be aware of the warning indications of a scam or a terrible employer. Therefore we’ve developed a list of TEFL fraud prevention guidelines.

Online TEFL scams to watch out for

While the online education sector has been expanding year after year, it is now expanding at an unprecedented rate. As more students and teachers go online, some unscrupulous characters attempt to prey on teachers looking for online work.

Keep the following points in mind when applying for online teaching jobs:

There is no presence on the internet. What online tutoring service lacks a website? There are currently no reviews. If you’re still seeking Glassdoor ratings from other teachers or student feedback, it’s a sign that the company isn’t authentic.

Penalties and fines are draconian. Several genuine companies, understandably, will penalize teachers who miss scheduled lessons. However, please read the terms carefully because there are some out there with penalty rules that are so absurd that you’ll almost surely lose a portion of your salary to them regularly.

The first lesson with a student is free of charge. Some companies will provide pupils with a free first lesson. However, this promise to entice students should not come at the expense of you as a teacher. Some companies have used this to avoid paying teachers entirely, leaving them with no lessons after the initial “free” speech.

The interviewer requests remote access. A recent course graduate exposed us to this scam. If you are applying for a job and are told that there is a “technical fault” and that they need to access your computer to correct it remotely, you should immediately terminate the interview. A legitimate interviewer would never act in this manner. Take care.

When to immediately walk away – TEFL scam alert!

The following are always red signals of a TEFL scam or a dubious employer/recruiter, whether you’re seeking an online job or a position abroad.

You are required to pay a deposit. It should never be necessary to pay to obtain employment. The “employer” will frequently need it to be sent via Western Union or another untraceable provider. While certain charges may be associated with working abroad, such as visas, background checks, and flights, you should not pay any of these to an individual.

The conditions of the contract have changed. Avoid signing a contract that differs significantly from the advertised conditions when applying. Only sign an agreement if you are delighted with it!

There is no digital trace. Do you need assistance finding information about the employer/recruiter online besides job advertisements? That is frequently an indication of a TEFL scam. Warnings and bad feedback. If all you get when you Google the employer are negative reviews and people warning others that it’s a hoax or that the business is exploitative, you should avoid it. No interview will be held. Legitimate employers will not hire you only based on your CV without conducting an interview.

It is not permissible for you to speak with any current workers. If the company has nothing to conceal, it will gladly connect you with a current or former employee. There is no such thing as an address. You require assistance locating the employer’s address, or it is simply a PO Box.


When to exercise caution

We strongly encourage you to perform additional research or avoid the following if you encounter any of them. You’ve been offered a job in a country where you don’t have a work visa. Working illegally in a country exposes you to employer exploitation. Do this only if you want to get TEFL experience. You are offered a job despite your lack of qualifications and experience. While this is frequent, employers who do not require teachers to hold a TEFL qualification are becoming increasingly rare. The pay seems too fantastic to be true. Is the income and benefits package offered much higher than comparable jobs in the same country? Proceed with caution if this is the case; TEFL scams frequently offer above-average pay to entice you.

An ineffective online presence. If a school need a more substantial online presence and depends mainly on stock images rather than photographs of actual students and instructors, this can be cause for concern. You’ve been offered a position in a country where finding work can be difficult. This is especially true for non-EU citizens seeking full-time jobs in Europe. Working as a non-EU citizen in Europe might be challenging, so be sure everything is in order—poor communication skills.

You are promised that your working visa will be supplied when you arrive. While obtaining a key on-site is routine in South America, it is banned in many other countries, so do your research. If you require clarity, don’t rely solely on what an employer/recruiter says; double-check it elsewhere.

How can you do further research if you’re feeling unsure?


First and foremost, research the employer’s or recruiter’s web presence using Google. Check for reviews, but be wary because these might be fabricated. Someone may have commented about it on the internet to warn others if it’s a TEFL scam or if the employer is a nightmare to work for.

To achieve more accurate Google search results, use quotation marks.

Check out the email address.

You’ve been receiving emails from “[email protected],” but when you Google the school, the email address listed is “[email protected]” – something doesn’t seem right.

Email the address mentioned on the website to find out if a job is available or if you’ve been emailing someone impersonating a reputable institution. A Gmail or Yahoo email address isn’t automatically suspicious because some colleges use them, but you should double-check that it corresponds to what’s on their website.

Ask to speak to a current employee.

A respectable employer who treats its employees well will never have this problem. If they reject, it suggests they don’t have any employees to link you with or don’t want you talking to their current – most likely disgruntled – employees, which is a major red flag.

classroom teaching
Look up other job adverts.

Examine many job advertisements in the same country to understand what to expect regarding income and benefits. If you come across a job that offers much larger pay and perks than everything else you’ve seen, it’s almost probably too good to be true.

When a degree is required to obtain a visa to work lawfully in a nation, employment adverts will specify that a degree is required. Proceed with caution if an employer tells you it’s not necessary. Consider whether someone willing to hire teachers illegally is someone you want to work for. What else are they getting up to?

What else are they getting up to? When you work illegally, your employer can easily exploit you and change the terms of your contract whenever they choose.

Similarly, be alert if the company is unconcerned about your TEFL certification. Finding a teaching post for someone entirely unqualified was relatively straightforward a few years ago, but it is considerably more difficult now. If an advertised job does not require TEFL certification (and does not involve training), it is most probably a fraud or an indicator of a terrible employer. Avoid!

Trust your instincts

Trust your gut if you’ve tried everything above and it still feels wrong. When making decisions, take your time. You may always contact us, and we’ll review the job and offer our perspective, or you can ask our Facebook student community for help.

While TEFL scams should be avoided, there are numerous excellent, authentic TEFL jobs accessible! Continue looking for employment on trustworthy job boards, and you’ll find the perfect job!

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