Detecting Fraudulent Job Postings

Fraudulent employment and internship opportunities are everywhere. Unfortunately, college students are a big target, as they are often under considerable financial pressure to find work. While it is impossible to catalog every scam and scheme that is out there, the characteristics below are some of the more common ones.

Identify scams and fraudulent employment

  • An opportunity may actually be a scam if:

    • • The contact uses a personal (e.g., Gmail) rather than a corporate or organizational email address.
      • It mentions a well-known employer, but that same posting is not on the employer’s website.
      • The employer appears to have no web presence at all, or it has a website with no physical address listed.
      • It arrives by email, and your address is not in the “To” box, or it is listed among many others.
      • The email has a vague, irrelevant, or inappropriate subject line.
      • You receive an email or social media message that appears to come from someone you know, but the writing does not sound like that person. Email and social media accounts are easily spoofed/hacked. Ignore the message.
      • You receive an unsolicited phone call from a well-known employer inviting you to apply on a special website. The website is likely fake. Google the employer main page for recruitment information.
      • The description states few, if any, specifics about the job.
      • It immediately offers you a job without using normal recruiting processes (e.g., resume review, interviewing).
      • It asserts legitimacy by using words like “reputable” and “respected,” or assuring you there is no cost involved.
      • It attempts to flatter you with verbiage such as “hardworking students like you.”
      • It contains alternate spellings, such as “programme” (program), “specialise” (specialize), “honour” (honor), “centre” (center), etc. Postings for U.S.-based employment rarely use these spellings.
      • It offers too-good-to-be-true “big returns for little investment,” for example, high pay for part-time hours.
      • It demands personal data up front, saying it is required to begin or continue the hiring process. Legitimate employers conduct ID checks at the end of the hiring process and direct deposit setup after you start work.
      • It involves conducting employer business—depositing/transferring funds or issuing payments on their behalf—using your personal bank or PayPal account. Legitimate employers never do this.
      • It claims to have gotten your email address or resume from a “school database.” The Career Development Center does not release your direct contact information to employers.
      • It looks okay, but you feel uneasy or cannot find answers to your questions. Trust yourself.
  • What to do? If in doubt, decline it.

    • It is far easier to live with a missed opportunity than the aftermath of a scam.
  • Have questions about an opportunity?

    • Contact the Career Development Center at (973) 353-5311 or
  • Think you have been scammed?

    We strongly recommend you file reports with the Federal Trade Commission (, the Rutgers Police Department (973-353-5111), and Computing Services (


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