Jobs that sound too good to be true should raise a red flag for any college student. Fake job postings abound in unsolicited e-mails sent to your student account and in online job listing sites.
Fake jobs can be attempts to steal personal information about you or steal money or bank account information from you. You could also get entangled in criminal activity, so be cautious.
Here are some tips to help you identify fake jobs. You should always carefully research the legitimacy of employers before applying.
Watch out for over-payment scams. These are often posted as a bookkeeper, personal assistant, administrative assistant, etc., to assist in processing checks or mystery/secret shoppers. The “company” sends a check to the “assistant” (student), who is then
responsible for taking their “salary” out of the check and wiring the remainder of the money back to the “company.” These checks are fraudulent and can leave you out thousands of dollars and facing criminal charges.
No legitimate employer will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a portion of it back. DO NOT provide any personal information especially Social Security numbers or financial information!
The following job posting was rejected by the Student Employment Program Job Board:
"Agile and Responsible individual is needed to fill the vacant
position of a Personal Assistant (Part time)
Someone who can offer these services:
*Mail services (Receive mails and drop them off at UPS)
*Shop for Gifts
*Sit for delivery (at your home) or pick items up at nearby post office
at your convenience. (You will be notified when delivery would be
A student notified the Student Employment Program that she received the following e-mail:
"If you are resourceful, organized, good with paperwork and
honest, you can make three hundred dollars ($300) a week, as a business
assistant. This flexible but formal position would only take at most two
hours of your time daily, or even less, depending on your work-speed.
You would be needed Mondays through Fridays, but the job’s flexibility
lies in the
fact that your duties are clear-cut and would take little of your time
to be executed daily. Kindly get back to me ASAP if you are interested
and wish to know more about this opportunity."
Another student received an e-mail offering them a "New, interesting, and respectable job" as a typist.
If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a job or internship posting, please contact the IUP Career and Professional Development Center at 724-357-2235
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel that you’ve been the victim of a scam, please contact University Police at 724-357-2141.
If the organization in question doesn’t have a website or the website doesn’t seem to match the advertised job, there may be cause for concern. Note the professionalism of the website. Is there specific contact information? Are jobs and career information
actually posted on the site? Lack of pertinent information is a red flag.
Do you have any connections to help you find inside information? If you belong to a professional association, they may be able to put you in touch with people who can advise you. Search Linked-In by “People” and the advanced search fields for “Company
Name.” Click the “Current Companies Only” checkbox to receive information on people currently listed as employed by this company.
Search by the name of the organization to gather information and recent news. You can also search by “scam” to look for signs the company has been reported in any type of fraudulent activity.
Two organizations to utilize are: the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company.
If you aren’t sure a company is legitimate, request a list of employees or contractors. Then contact the references to see how satisfied they are. If a company isn’t willing to share references (names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers), this is a red
flag. You may want to research the references a bit as well, to be sure they are legitimate.
Be careful when an employer cannot communicate accurately or effectively on the website, by e-mail, over the telephone, etc. If communications are sloppy, how professional is the organization?
Most legitimate employers will not charge to hire you! Don’t send money for work-at-home directories, advice on getting hired, company information or for anything else related to the job. There are some well-known internship programs that do require payment
to place you in internships, but check with your department’s internship coordinator to determine if the program is legitimate.
When information about salary isn’t listed on a job posting, try to find out if you will receive a salary or be paid on commission. Find out how much you’re paid, how often you are paid and how you are paid. If the company doesn’t pay an hourly rate or
a salary, be cautious and investigate further.
Read all information carefully. If the opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Just because a job lead appears in a legitimate publication, it doesn’t mean that the job or company is, necessarily, legitimate. Forget about getting rich