1. The sender’s email address has a generic public domain
2. The domain name is completely wrong or slightly misspelled
3. The email is poorly written in terms of grammar and spelling
4. The tone of the email is urgent and requires you to act swiftly
5. The attachments or links are suspicious – DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN
6. The email promises financial windfall or grave penalties
7. Your gut instincts tell you the email is fake
Although the staff in The Career Development Office reviews job and internship postings to determine legitimacy, we want to make sure you are aware of these signs that are red flags that a job or internship posting is fraudulent:
• The company/person sends an email directly to your school email address. Sometimes the Career Development Office will send opportunities to students, but the company should never contact you directly via your CHC email address.
• The job posting asks you to provide your credit card, bank account numbers, or other personal financial documentation.
• The posting appears to be from a reputable, familiar company (often a Fortune 500), or even a well-known local establishment. Yet, the domain in the contact’s email address does not match the domain used by representatives of the company (this is typically easy to determine from the company’s website). Another way to validate is to check the open positions on the company’s website.
• The contact email address contains the domain @live.com, @hotmail, @yahoo, @gmail, etc.
• The position requires an initial investment, such as a payment by wire service or courier.
• The posting includes many spelling and grammatical errors.
• You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account (often for depositing checks or transferring money).
• You receive an unexpectedly large check (checks are typically slightly less than $500, generally sent or deposited on Fridays).
• You are asked to provide a photo of yourself.
• The position is for any of the following: Envelope Stuffers, Home-based Assembly Jobs, Online Surveys.
• The posting neglects to mention what the responsibilities of the job actually are. Instead, the description focuses on the amount of money to be made.
• The employer responds to you immediately after you submit your resume. Typically, resumes sent to an employer are reviewed by multiple individuals, or not viewed until the posting has closed. Note – this does not include an auto-response you may receive from the employer once you have sent your resume.
• The position indicates a “first-year compensation” that is in high excess to the average compensation for that position type.
• Look at the company’s website. Does it have an index that tells you what the site is about; or does it contain information only about the job you are interested in? Scammers often create quick, basic web pages that seem legit at first glance.
• Watch for anonymity. If it is difficult to find an address, actual contact, company name, etc. – this is cause to proceed with caution. Fraud postings are illegal, so scammers will try to keep themselves well-hidden.
• The salary range listed is very wide (i.e. “employees can earn from $40K – $80K the first year!”)
• When you Google the company name and the word “scam” (i.e. Acme Company Scam), the results show several scam reports concerning this company. Another source for scam reports is: http://www.ripoffreport.com.
• Google the employer’s phone number, fax number, and/or email address. If it does not appear connected to an actual business organization, this is a red flag. The employer contacts you by phone, however, there is no way to call them back. The number is not available.
• Google Map the physical address of the organization. If the “street view” image does not appear to be a business operation, it is more than likely a scam.
• The employer tells you that they do not have an office set-up in your area, and will need you to help them get it up and running (these postings often include a request for your banking information, supposedly to help the employer make transactions).
What if You are Already Involved in a Scam?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests the following instructions for schools to share with students who have responded to fraudulent postings.
• The student should immediately contact the Campus Security (215) 242-7777. The campus security are responsible for conducting an investigation (regardless of whether the scam artist is local or in another state).
• Please contact The Career Development Office too (
). Although we make every effort to review postings before they go live to our campus community, we want to be informed of illegal activity related to postings so that there will not be other victims.
• In addition to the above instructions, if it is a situation where the student has sent money to a fraud employer: the student should contact their bank or credit card company immediately to close the account and dispute the charges If the incident occurred completely over the Internet, the student should file an incident report with the: http://www.cybercrime.gov/, or by calling the FTC at: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Always feel free to reach out to anyone in the Career Development Office with questions about job postings, and report any emails sent to you that don’t seem legitimate to: