The Internet and e-mail have transformed job hunting and employee recruitment. There is greater access to more opportunities, but any online job search should be tempered by caution. Increased accessibility has benefited scammers, too. Fraudulent job postings may actually be targeting your money or personal information. The following suggestions are ways to protect yourself when searching for jobs in cyberspace.

Essentials to avoiding a scam

  • Do not give your personal bank account, PayPal account, or credit card numbers to a new employer.
  • Do not agree to have funds or paychecks direct deposited into any of your accounts by a new employer; you should know them first. (Most employers provide the option of either direct deposit or a paycheck, and make these arrangements during your first day or week of actual employment—on site, and not before.)
  • Do not forward, transfer, send by courier (e.g., FedEx, UPS), or “wire” any money to any employer, for any employer, using your personal account(s).
  • Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.
  • Do not respond to suspicious and/or “too good to be true” unsolicited job e-mails.

Some red flags to watch for

  • You are required to pay a fee to obtain a job (rarely are applicants charged to be hired).
  • The contact e-mail address contains the domain “@live.com” or a non-domain name (i.e., their e-mail is a Yahoo account, rather than the official company domain/name).
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check (checks are typically slightly less than $500, generally sent or deposited on Fridays).
  • The employer responds to you immediately after you submit your resume. Typically, resumes sent to an employer are reviewed by multiple individuals, or not viewed until the posting has closed. (This does not include an auto-response you may receive from the employer once you have submitted your resume.)
  • The employer contacts you by phone, however there is no number available to call them back.
  • You receive an e-mail from an employer stating they were referred to you by the Career Center. The Career Center will never release your e-mail to an employer without your prior approval.
  • The job posting contains numerous grammatical and spelling errors.
  • The salary range is broad ($40-$80K).
  • The job posting does not list job responsibilities, but instead focuses on the amount of money you can make.
  • You are asked to provide a photo of yourself outside of specific fields that require a headshot (e.g., modeling, theater, etc.).
  • You get offered the position without interviewing.
  • The company has a generic name like Finance Investment Company. Verify through a search engine to ensure the company has a legitimate website and that “scam” does not come up.
  • The job appears to be a traditional job contract but upon further inspection is an independent contractor position.

Confirm they’re who they say they are

You can verify employer contact information through a search engine. An employer may claim to be from a reputable company, but look closely to ensure the domain name matches the domain name of other employees of the company (e.g. “@salesteam.com” may read as “@saleteam”). You can check the company’s website for current openings to see if they match what is being referenced.

Websites to verify organizations:

If you suspect you’re involved in a scam

Know that the Career Center is always here to help you. If you feel that you have been contacted by a fraudulent employer, please come to 220 Hendricks Hall, or call us immediately at 541-346-3235 and we will take action. We recommend you also take the following steps:

  • Immediately contact the local police. The police are responsible for conducting an investigation (regardless of whether the scam artist is local or in another state). If you are a current student, you may file a report with the UO Department of Public Safety and call the University of Oregon Safety and Risk Services at 541-346-8335.
  • If it is a situation where you have sent money to a fraudulent employer, you should contact your bank or your credit card company as soon as possible to close the account and dispute the charges. If the incident occurred completely over the Internet, you should file an incident report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).