University students are hit with one of the largest scams to hit the internet, fake job offers. Scammers steal your money and sometimes your identity. It's very important today to beware of these job offers and know how to detect them.
Here are some red flags to watch out for when you receive a job offer:
1. Unsolicited or unprofessional communication
Communication is initiated by the scammer. The first rule of thumb is to question any communication coming your way that you haven’t initiated. The most frequent methods used by scammers to engage with their targets were email and text. Scammers often contact job seekers from an email that resembles an official company domain, although it may take a discerning eye to notice the discrepancies. They also like to use compromised email accounts within your school, this helps improve the legitimacy of the offer since it appears to come from an official school email address. While legitimate recruiters do regularly reach out to potential candidates as part of their job, it’s important to take a step back whenever you’re approached online to make sure the source is legitimate.
2. Unclear or questionable methods of contact
Any legitimate recruiter or employer will communicate via email, phone, video, and in person. Even through these channels, though, scammers persist. Some even go so far as setting up and conducting “interviews” on the phone or via platforms like Zoom, Teams, or Google Hangouts. And while email is acceptable for initial contact, the process should naturally migrate to phone and video interviews. Professional recruiters won’t conduct interviews through email or instant message platforms. If a recruiter is using an email address not tied to the official company domain, that’s likely a sign to move on.
3. Broad, vague job descriptions
These are designed to reach as many people as possible. The requirements may be ridiculously simple: “You must be 18; you must be a citizen; you must have access to a computer.” The job listing will use generic job titles and descriptions and be light on actual company information. If a job description is scarce on details or promises that more information will be provided upon hire, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. This is also a cue for recruiters and employers to ensure that your job postings are detailed and specific and lend credibility to your job and your brand.
A note on vagueness due to confidentiality: A job posting may be confidential and omit certain company information if the current employee is yet to be replaced, but if a recruiter refuses to tell you the name of the company during the interview process, it’s a red flag.
4. Things seem a little too perfect or move too fast
If someone is offering you a job right away, either without an interview or upon initial solicitation through email or other means, it’s a big red flag. Likewise, if you’re being offered a job well above your pay grade, no experience necessary, you should run the other way. Jobs that promise a lot of flexibility in working from home and offer a huge salary but expect nothing from a candidate when it comes to skills and experience, are almost always scams.
5. You’re experiencing high-pressure tactics
You should never feel pressure to immediately accept a job without time to think it through—no matter how great it may seem. Good recruiters and hiring managers will always give a candidate a reasonable amount of time to decide on a job offer to make sure it’s the right fit for both parties.
Scam jobs often showcase employees who have made a lot of money, emphasizing how you can quickly do the same when you accept the job (and likely when you pay money for products or training). Any promises of drastic income changes overnight are empty ones.
6. You’re asked for personal information right away (very important)
This may include Social Security information, bank account numbers, online account information, or personal addresses. While HR will have you fill out personal and identifiable information upon hire for tax purposes, this request should still be vetted thoroughly, and it doesn’t happen during the interview process. Scammers may ask for your login credentials for a website they don’t control in order to gain access to your accounts. They may also ask you to open a bank account or fill out a credit report form on another website (that it turns out they own), so that they can steal your personal information.
Even if you’ve already vetted the legitimacy of a job offer, be sure to get all contracts and details about a job in writing, from an official source, before you offer any personal information.
7. You’re being offered, or asked for, money upfront
These two tactics often intertwine, because an offer of money ends up coming out of your own pocket. Common employment scams entail offering job seekers compensation for expenses. They may send you a check to “purchase equipment” for the job that ends up being forged and bounces, and in the meantime ask you to wire money from the “check” to another account which is, in actuality, your own money. Another common tactic is to send victims fake checks, then, once the check is deposited, claim the person was “overpaid” and ask them to wire back the difference or forward funds to another account.
Legitimate employers will also never ask you to spend your money on equipment or training in order to secure the job or “pay your way” to an interview, a job offer, or a job “tryout.” They also won’t ask you to work for them without pay for a certain period of time, so don’t agree to this type of arrangement.
8. Grammatical mistakes abound
Bogus job offers and solicitations will often contain a multitude of spelling errors and poor punctuation. The job description and accompanying communication you receive from a “recruiter” may feel scripted or the language may feel unnatural.
9. Suspicious Email Addresses
Hiring managers should send you emails from their business addresses, not from a personal account like Gmail. So, if someone is claiming to be a hiring manager at Amazon but not emailing you from an “@amazon.com,” email address that’s a massive red flag.
Scammers sometimes try to get around this by using addresses like “[legitimate company name]@gmail.com.”
Remember: Reputable companies — especially major enterprises — will by and large have their own email address domains.
If at any time you receive a job offer and need assistance in determining its authenticity, contact the IT Helpdesk or Concord's Career Services office, we can help.