Detecting Fraudulent Opportunities
We want to make sure that your job and internship searches are as stress-free as possible, and that includes helping you identify opportunities that may be a scam. If you think that you have received information about a job or internship opportunity that may be fraudulent, you can contact Eckerd Career Services to confirm its legitimacy.
Regardless of whether or not you are actively job-seeking, you may receive emails, phone calls or texts, or other notifications of potentially fraudulent opportunities. Here are some things you should keep in mind as you receive messages about jobs and internships. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of precautions, and you should always remove yourself from any situation or interaction that feels unsafe or uncertain.
If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Fraudulent opportunities often make claims that sound like they could be the perfect opportunity, from very high hourly pay rates to the option to work entirely from home. While this type of opportunity may exist in the real world, you should question these kinds of benefits, especially if you have had no previous contact with the organization that is offering them.
Research the employer: are they legitimate?
Any employer should have an official website with a company address, employee names, email addresses affiliated with the organization, and detailed contact information. Tip: who.is is a good resource you can use to determine if a website is credible.
Next, locate the company address using Google Maps. Is it a commercial property that matches the employer description? Fraudulent employers will sometimes use real addresses that show up on a map, but those addresses will be associated with another business or organization.
Finally, not all organizations have a LinkedIn page, but it's worth investigating if they do. How many employees are listed, and do they have photos? Does the number of employees seem appropriate for this type of organization?
No application or interview process? Probably not a real job.
The application process is extremely important for hiring managers, Human Resources departments, and job/internship seekers. The process offers all parties the opportunity to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position. Many fraudulent opportunities have wording to indicate that they are trying to "fill the vacancy quickly" and may skip the entire application process. Emails about these opportunities may even be presented as "job offers" that require no application or interview, or they may simply ask you to reply with a resume or contact information.
If you are presented with a job or internship offer but haven't applied or interviewed for the position, you should question the legitimacy of the offer. Before responding to these types of offers, contact Eckerd Career Services. We can help you determine whether the opportunity is legitimate or a scam.
Keep an eye out for "spoofed" messages.
Fraudulent job and internship opportunities are getting more sophisticated. Occasionally, scammers will disguise their communication source through a process called "spoofing," and the message may seem like it is from a known, trusted source. This can apply to emails, phone calls, and even websites. This means that even messages that look like they come from another individual at Eckerd, Career Services, or TritonTrack (Symplicity) may actually be spoofed.
There are many types of spoofing, but email spoofing is commonly associated with fraudulent job or internship opportunities. According to Forcepoint, "Email spoofing occurs when an attacker uses an email message to trick a recipient into thinking it came from a known and/or trusted source. These emails may include links to malicious websites or attachments infected with malware, or they may use social engineering to convince the recipient to freely disclose sensitive information."
Sender information is easy to spoof and can be done in one of two ways:
- Mimicking a trusted email address or domain by using alternate letters or numbers to appear only slightly different from the original trusted address
- Disguising the "From" field to be the exact email address of a known and/or trusted source
It is very easy for spoofed messages to go undetected. Remember to carefully check the sender's email address for slight alterations, and don't be afraid to separately message the alleged sender at their known, trusted address in order to confirm the questionable email was indeed sent by them.
Know when to give out your information.
In a standard application process, you will include your phone number, email, city, state, and zip code on your resume and cover letter (read here about why a full address is no longer needed—and potentially risky to include). If you receive an email asking for you to simply respond back with your contact information, and you've had no previous contact with the organization, the email may be a scam.
You should never be asked to provide government identification information such as your Social Security Number as part of the application process (unless you are asked to disclose this information in a USAJobs application for a government position).
You may be asked to provide your Social Security Number or other government identification as part of a background check, but these are typically conducted late in the interview process as the organization selects its final candidate; if you are asked to provide this information as part of your application or prior to an interview, it should raise some red flags.
You should also never be asked to provide financial information such as a bank account number during an application process. The only time that you should give out your banking information is when setting up direct deposit as part of your on-boarding process after you have accepted an offer letter.
If you have been asked to provide sensitive information as part of an application process and you are unsure if it is necessary, contact Eckerd Career Services for guidance.
You should never have to give money to get a job.
If you are asked to send money to an organization or to use your own money to purchase supplies for a job, the opportunity is most likely a scam (this includes multi-level marketing, an industry which disproportionately recruits women). You should never have to give money to get a job, and only in very rare cases will you need to purchase your own supplies. If you are offered money in the form of a check or money order to purchase supplies, you should confirm with your bank whether it is legitimate before depositing it (see next section).
The video below includes more details on detecting and avoiding pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing.
You should never have to give money to get an internship.
As colleges and universities continue to impress upon their students the experiential value of internships, some organizations capitalize on the anxiety that many students feel about losing out on a necessary career move; these organizations charge students exorbitant fees for internships experiences or promised “placements.” While these organizations and internships themselves may be legitimate, Eckerd Career Services believes that it is not worthwhile or beneficial to pay an organization in order to secure an internship. If you are considering such an opportunity, we encourage you to schedule an appointment on TritonTrack to discuss the opportunity with a Career Advisor.
Beware of fake check scams
According to the American Bankers Association, fake checks continue to be one of the most common instruments used to commit fraud against consumers. Before you deposit a check you weren’t expecting or wire funds to an unknown recipient, here is what you should know.
There are many variations of the fake check scam. It usually starts with someone offering to buy something you advertised for sale, pay you to work at home, give you an “advance” on a sweepstakes or you’ve won, or give you the first installment on the millions you’ll receive for agreeing to transfer money in a foreign country to your bank account for safekeeping.
Fraudsters issue you a check or money order worth more than the amount owed to you and instruct you to wire the excess funds back to them before receiving your lump sum payment. After you’ve sent the money, you find out that the check or money order is fraudulent.
Here are tips to prevent fake check scams (more info on these points can be found here):
- Even if the check has “cleared,” you may not be in the clear
- Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the check
- Never "pay to play"
- Do not respond to online solicitations for “easy money”
- Verify the requester before you wire or issue a check
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately
What to do if you have responded to a scam job posting.
If you have responded to a scam job/internship opportunity, you may want to follow the steps below:
- Determine what information you have given the scammers. If all they have is your name, email address, physical address, and/or phone number, you may want to report the scam to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) via their online form. If there has been any kind of monetary exchange, you may need to reach out to your local police department's non-emergency line.
- Notify Eckerd Career Services so that we can help get the word out to other students as needed. It may be helpful for us to see the original message, so if it is possible to forward the email or text screenshots, please do so. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have received a scam job posting but have not responded to it, you can safely ignore the message and mark it as spam.
Remember to trust your instincts and use your best judgement when evaluating job or internship opportunities. If you have any questions or concerns about an employer or position, please contact Career Services for guidance.