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YAY! You’re HIRED! I need your social security number, bank statements, and the title to your car then we can pay you way too much money for a position you didn’t even apply for! 

Well, obviously, and unfortunately, this is a scam; but sometimes it’s not so easy to see when you find a vague job description on a job board or get an exciting unsolicited email from someone who says they work for your dream company (but with a Gmail address?). There are going to be scammers and some multi-level marketing companies targeting college students, especially fresh graduates, with opportunities to make money quickly. 


Here are some key questions to ask yourself when you see something that feels too good to be true:

  1. Do I know this employer? If you did not reach out to this company, it’s safe to say to ignore the email, especially if it’s a job offer, or phrased in a way that suggests you have a short time frame to respond for immediate hiring. If you didn’t submit anything, they have no information to reach out to! Legitimate recruiters and hiring managers use sites like Handshake or their applicant tracking system to communicate with potential candidates and post their jobs. They also use their official company emails to respond to inquiries that you initiate by applying for a job or asking for an informational meeting. If they say they’re a recruiter with “X” company, you can look them up on LinkedIn or the company website to make sure it’s their legitimate contact information. 
  2.  Is this too much information? If this mystery “employer” asks for the basic information you have obviously not already given it. If they insist that you text, or even email, instead of calling and actually speaking, it is probably a scam. If they ask for banking information prior to signing an employment agreement or pay only through third-party apps and never directly (for example, through Paypal) it’s a scam. If they offer you big bonuses for signing on, or promise advanced pay, it is most likely a scam. 
  3. Where does this link lead? If the email includes links, do not click them. If you want to see what they lead to, hover your mouse and look at the address. Assess if the link seems to lead to a real website or not. Be sure to look for typos or bad sentence structures.
  4. What are you doing on the job? Not all vague job descriptions are going to be scams, but if there are very few job details, it’s probably too good to be true. When these “employers” emphasize “no experience necessary” and offer a high pay rate instead of telling you the actual job responsibilities they may not be who they say they are. Good job descriptions include job responsibilities, qualifications and skills, information about the company, and realistic pay rates. Be sure to look for the official posting on the official company website.
  5. Do you have to spend your own money? Jobs that require you to purchase something for them or from them are typically red flags. Sometimes, companies will require you to purchase your own uniforms, but only they can provide the appropriate supplies. Real companies pay YOU for training—it’s a part of the job. They also will supply you with the tools needed to be successful in the role. 
  6. Do they even know you? Sure, you’ve got a great resume on your LinkedIn and ChargerPath that they found, but getting a job offer should be a little harder than pressing “apply now”. Interviews are also the time for you to be able to ask questions of employers and make sure it’s the right fit for you. 


On ChargerPath, the UAH Office of Career Services strives to review employers and their full-time, part-time, and internship postings to confirm that they are legitimate. However, on occasion one slips through the cracks. If you ever see anything on Handshake that feels phishy, send the post number or forward the message you received from an employer to for review and removal. Use caution, have some healthy skepticism, and pay attention to indications of malintent.