Signs an Opportunity Might Be a Scam

🚩8 red flags to watch for in your job search

An Opportunity May Be a Scam if…

🚩 Information on the opportunity is lacking or contradictory 

  • Mystery Employer: Employer not specified or referred to using generic descriptors (e.g., Hollywood A-List Celebrity).
  • Missing Virtual or Physical Footprint: Employer has no apparent web presence, or it has a website with no physical address.
  • Vague Title: Examples include “Personal Assistant,” “Consultant,” “Influencer,” or “Associate.”
  • All Benefits, No Duties: It touts the benefits of the job, but contains few, if any, specifics about the actual work.
  • No Cross-Listing: It mentions a well-known employer, but that same posting is not on the employer’s website.
  • Mismatching Domains: The opportunity comes from an email address that does not match the employer’s web domain (e.g., @big4kpmg.net instead of kpmg.com).
  • Suspect Personal Referral: You receive a message that appears to come from someone you know, but the writing does not sound like that person. Delete the message and speak to them in person.
  • Unsolicited Invitation: You receive an unsolicited call or message from a well-known employer or recruiter inviting you to apply on a special website. The website is likely fake. Google the employer main page for recruitment info.

🚩 The hiring process is sketchy

  • Connecting through Personal Channels: A recruiter reaches out to you over personal social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok).
  • Prompt Platform Redirection: You receive a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, who promptly redirects you to another unmoderated or untraceable platform such as Snapchat.
  • Offer Comes Too Easy: They immediately offer you a job without using normal recruiting processes (e.g., resume review, interviewing, reference checks).
  • Faceless and Voiceless Recruiter: The employer insists on interviewing you over text or on a chat platform, and you never actually talk to someone face-to-face or over the phone.
  • Employer Tech Troubles: You have a virtual interview, and the recruiter declines to turn on their camera, saying it’s broken or there is a bad internet connection.
  • Deep-Fakes: You meet with a recruiter on a virtual platform, and they appear fuzzy, stiff and robotic, or their mouth movements don’t match their speech.
  • No Paycheck: The offer involves a nontraditional form of compensation (e.g., Bitcoin).  

🚩 They swear they are legitimate 

  • Tacking on the Rutgers Name: The employer claims to have gotten your email address or resume from a “school database.” Rutgers University does not release your direct contact information to employers.
  • “Scammers, Us?”: They frequently use words like “reputable” and “respected,” or assure you there is no cost involved.
  • “Here’s My Credentials!”: The recruiter sends you official-looking documents attesting to their identity or the company’s viability. These are easy to Photoshop.

🚩 They want your private information

  • Up-Front Identity Verification: They demand personal data immediately, such as your passport, driver’s license, or Social Security/Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Legitimate employers conduct ID checks at the end of the hiring process.
  • Qualification: Bank Account”: Providing banking information is a condition of an offer. Legitimate employers do direct deposit setup after you start work.
  • Answers to Your “Secret” Questions: They request personal information that has nothing to do with your qualifications or the job itself (e.g., mother’s maiden name, your first car’s make and model). This information can be used to hack into your existing accounts.

🚩 They want your money

  • Secret Stash: The recruiter offers to share a list of special, secret, or premium jobs for a fee. These jobs are fake, outdated, or available elsewhere for free.
  • You Pay Them to Hire You: They require you to pay for employer recruitment expenses such as a background check.
  • Your Setup, Your Money: The offer involves classes, certifications, or purchasing inventory or office equipment at your own expense. They may offer you a check as reimbursement, but this is also part of the scam (see below).
  • Fake Paycheck: The employer sends you a large check with instructions to cash it, keep a portion for yourself, and return the rest to them. When the cashed check fails to clear, your bank will hold you liable for the full amount, and the employer will be long gone with the funds you sent to them.

🚩 They want you to move money or merchandise

  • Money Mule: Position 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.
  • Reshipping Racket: Position requires you to accept funds or packages and reship them to another address. This is a form of trafficking stolen property. Contact law enforcement immediately.

🚩 They use high-pressure tactics

  • Love-Bombing: Incessantly complimenting you on your resume or flattering you with verbiage such as “hardworking students like you.”
  • Time-Bombing: They present an ideal offer, but you have to accept quickly or else the offer goes away.
  • You vs. Them: Several other prime candidates are eager for the job, but you are their top choice, so they need an answer now.
  • No Need to Worry: They dismiss your reservations as unimportant or say they will be resolved after you start work.
  • No Time to Think: They discourage you from thinking it over or talking to others about the offer.

🚩 Something seems too good to be true

  • Status is Irrelevant: You are an international or undocumented student, but they say status makes no difference.
  • No Negotiation from the Employer: They agree to all of your requirements with little or no discussion.
  • “Big Returns for Little Investment”: For example, high pay for part-time hours or low-level work.
  • That Nagging Feeling: It looks okay, but you feel uneasy or cannot find answers to your questions. Trust yourself.