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Avoid Job Scams and Fraud

Beware of Job Scams, Protect Your Privacy, Ask Questions

Recently, a number of fraudulent emails promising employment have been sent to Montclair State University students. If you receive an email that seems suspicious, please review some of the common scams below to determine whether or not you may have been contacted by a scam artist. If you’re still unsure about the sender’s intent, feel free to reach out to Career Services and we will be happy to help.

Scam artists take advantage of college students since they tend to be new to the job search and quite vulnerable during the process. They also understand that many students are very interested in finding positions that are paid and advertise their false positions as such. Most of the positions that we post through Handshake are legitimate (and paid), but it is important to be vigilant while you are searching for a job or internship. Below are common scams but it is important to know that new tactics are often developed.


Phishing has become more prevalent in recent years. These scammers use two different tactics to identify their victims:

  1. A mass email is sent claiming to have viewed recipients’ resumes and notes that they meet the requirements for a bogus position. The message may also use language stating that they are responding to a resume you sent. Try to remember whether or not you sent your resume to that organization/recruiter.
  2. The scam may also come in the form of a professional email sent to you containing a link. Beware of the fact that the link can lead to a false website that may ask you to update banking or employment information.

International Check Cashing Scam

This scam involves transferring funds internationally. The scam artist tells the targeted individual that they are overseas and would like to have money deposited into the victim’s account via check, money order or wire deposit then cashed. The victim is told to send a portion of the money to the scam artist and to keep a percentage for themselves as payment for services. It’s explained that this helps to avoid international taxes and fees. In the end, the victim has the money withdrawn from their account before the bank realizes it was a fraudulent check, money order or deposit.


Once again, this scam is typically generated through an email from a company that appears to be legitimate. Victims are asked to receive packages and reship them to a different address, with their address on the return label.  If caught, they can be arrested for receiving and shipping stolen goods.

Mystery Shopper

These positions often appear too good to be true. They give victims the opportunity to dine at a particular restaurant, or shop in a popular store and then be reimbursed for their purchase and perhaps even to receive a small compensation. Although many of these opportunities are legitimate, there are some that ask potential employees to pay an upfront fee to get more information about the role prior to being hired. This may happen in other industries, as well. It should be known that there is no need to pay a potential employer anything prior to getting hired for any job.

Ways to Avoid Falling Victim to Scams

  • Google is your friend. Oftentimes, previous victims have posted about their experiences online. Many potential scams can be avoided by simply looking up an employer by organization name, contact name, phone number or email.
  • Carefully review contact information, job descriptions, company descriptions and email addresses.  Be sure to look for spelling and grammatical errors, which are usually the sign of a scam.
  • Keep a list of all jobs and companies to which you’ve applied so you can easily look back to see if the employer was one in which you were interested.
  • If the sender’s email address is coming from a Gmail, AOL, Yahoo or other perceived personal account, it’s most likely a scam. Most businesses have their name in their email extensions.
  • Never give out your social security number, birthday, mother’s maiden name or financial information. New employers do not need any of that information until after you have started working and wish to have your paychecks deposited directly into your account.
  • Under no circumstances agree to forward, transfer or wire money to or from your account. Any transfer of funds should come out of the employer’s business account.
  • By no means pay an employer for any products, information, licensures or information prior to being hired for the position.
  • And remember that scam artists go to great lengths to create emails and websites that look like legitimate organizations. They copy company branding such as logos, colors and text to trick their victims. If there is any doubt as to the validity of the message, call your financial institution or the referenced company and ask them to verify that the message is legitimate.