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I've been contacted by someone who found my posting on job search website. They claim to be "overseas" (meaning EU/USA) company hiring people. For my region, pay is very good (actually, it is extremely high). They claim to offer remote fulltime jobs.

The thing is... their website is one page (decent-looking, though) with "login"/register buttons, some short ads, cool design and nothing else.

And I can't find anything on them with google.

I suspect that this is a scam of sorts, but I'd like to know what are normal steps to "verify" company. "Verify" meaning "does it even exist", "is it a scam", etc.

I've been only working with individuals before so I'm not sure how to proceed (I did reply to their representative, though).

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If they are from the European Union, you might check their validity on the official European Commission website. You need their VAT Number.

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/?locale=en

There's where I check my potential clients.

UPDATE:

In the EU (at least in some countries), it is mandatory that the company has a VAT number if they trade anything with an entity from another country, even if they make little or no money. Indeed, while trading with a company from their own country (if they don't make more than € 65.000 / year) they are not required to use the VAT number, but they must have it for international use.

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Do they have any contact details on the website? If yes, Google them. Navigate to the address via Google Maps and see if it's some house or a building. If it's a house, it could be a bad sign if you cannot also find anything about them.

If they are recruiting company, they will disclose their name and send you a contract before they hire you. Such agencies are very professional.

Google their name as I said, ask them to tell you more about agency (if they disclose little info - bad sign) and lean to your common sense.

You can also them to conduct a Skype video chat and record it. If they decline video chat - bad sign.

I do not see any way to harm you unless they ask for free work. In the later case, you know what to say, right?

  • No physical address whatsoever, "contact" is a "mailto" link which is on the same domain as website. "Representative" asked me to register to start "two-tier" testing which her colleague is supposed to send in a day or two. Very little on the web too, although there are some dead links from 2007. – user7563 Apr 16 '15 at 17:34
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    No serious company will have no physical address. This is sooo fishy. – Peter MV Apr 16 '15 at 17:37
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There are a few things that you can do to sanity-check this. Among these:

  • Look at the WHOIS information about their website. If you're lucky, the Registrant, Admin or Tech sections may have important information. If you're not lucky, they purchased privacy and their hosting provider hides the above information.
  • Google "company name scam" or "company name reviews". Figure out what their business is. If it's not easily discernible (or if the first Google search term I suggested comes up with many results), then give it a pass.
  • If you have a company name or an address, you can look up their state's government site and use that to determine if such a company is registered with them.
  • Follow your gut. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. If they had found your posting on a job search website, then they know that you're looking for a job and may be in desperation-mode. I'm not a bad person, but if I were, I would focus my efforts on people who may not be thinking clearly.
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In addition to all the good advices that others told you, you can go on and start to work for that company with the condition to receive a full or partial prepayment for your project, as first time.

You will then know if they are serious, also receiving the payment you will acquire more good information about the company and who is behind.

You can justify your request saying that the prepayment is for coverings you expenses to start their project.

  • Asking for a downpayment with people you don't know is a normal and standard practice until trust is established between parties. Even moreso when working across national borders, as it is extremely difficult to force them to pay afterwards if they decide to stiff you. – Voxwoman Apr 18 '15 at 18:09
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My gut tells me to avoid these folk like the plague. Remember, the content of your CV is generous for a social hack. Your name, address, date of birth, phone number, social insurance or other 'secret' references sometimes - they might ask your for bank details.

I have been contracting since 1994 and there are many fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants operators out there who are more prepared then the people who approached you.

If you still curious to proceed further then

  1. Get their full address, their company registration number and VAT
  2. @Petre suggestion is terrific - If they are EU based, check their VAT number matches the company 100%.
  3. If they don't have VAT, then their trading is below 70,000 a year
  4. Search on their telephone number. Try the search with country code, without country code and if the last digit is not a zero, search the phone number with the last three digits removed.
  5. Find out how they found you - they could be pumping you up with nice words without actually knowing anything about you. In 20+ years, I have had a handful of calls from folk who think I'm great, tell me they have the perfect job for me, client is keen to meet me, and then, amazingly, ask me for my CV and remind them exactly what I do again. Don't be shy to ask them for references.
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The company must be registered in some kind of registry to be recognized as legal. For example, Registry of Legal entities.

Just ask the company to share public details of the company (company code, VAT code if exists, company address (registration or post), name and surname of the person you are now communicating with, contact phone or email, the registry where the company is registered, the country of such registry) so you could validate the company in that registry. If those details are not presented then I see no reason to go into deeper relations as hiding public data would mean they are hiding something that should be available for all.

After validating the company in the registry you should validate the registry itself. Some registries could be the same type of fake as some companies are. I do not know much about registry validation, but browsing google must be enough, I think - should be many many results..

That should be enough to validate the company. However, legal company does not mean you will be paid as expected. Even legal companies sometimes does bad things. :) You could search for creditability information of the company in the registries developed exactly for this. Such information could cost you some money, but it will usually provide a lot of useful information: number of employes, debt to government institutions (e.g. debt in taxes), income rate, etc. The deep and accuracy of the information depends on the registry. I am doing such creditability information on each job change (full-time job, I mean). I am from Lithuania (EU country) so I check such info at the registry of Credit Reform company: http://cr.lt/en/
I see they have some activity in Bulgaria, China, Germany, Estonia, UK, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Maldawien, Austria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, Hungary. I know nothing about their activities in other countries than Lithuania, so you should check it by yourself.

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