Employment Scams

There has been an increase in scams targeting students with fake jobs promising flexible hours and good pay. The following information should help you identify and avoid these scams.  

How a typical employment scam works:
A student applies for an online job posted by a scammer, usually out-of-state. When payday rolls around, the scammer tells the student they will receive a cashier's check for more than what the student has earned. The scammer offers to "trust" the student and asks that they repay the difference with a wire transfer. The student cashes the cashier's check and then wires the scammer the balance.

Even though the bank cashes the check, it is later discovered to be a fake and does not clear. The student now owes the bank the full value of the check. Remember, no legitimate employer will send payment in advance and ask the employee to send a portion of it back. 

What can I do?

Be skeptical. If a job is offering a lot of money for very little work, it could be a scammer trying to get personal information from you.

Research the employer. Do they have a reputable website or professional references? Is the job listing you want to apply for also on their main career page? Note: work-study jobs may not be advertised on employer websites.

Trust your instincts. If a job sounds too good to be true, it is likely a scam.

Beware if an email or job posting:

  • Does not indicate the company name or comes from an e-mail address that doesn't match the company name.
  • Does not give the employer contact information, title of person sending the email, company address, phone number, etc.
  • Offers to pay a large amount for almost no work and offers you a job without ever interacting with you.
  • Asks you to pay an application fee or wants you to transfer money from one account to another by wire service or courier.
  • Asks you to give your credit card or bank account numbers or asks for copies of personal documents.
  • Offers you a large payment for allowing the use of your bank account—often for depositing checks or transferring money.
  • Sends you an unexpectedly large check.


  • Never give out personal information like your social security or bank account number over email or phone.
  • Never take cashier's checks or money orders as a form of payment. Fake checks are common and the bank where you cash it will hold you accountable.
  • Never cash a check that comes with "extra" money. Scammers send checks that require you to deposit a check at your bank, withdraw the "extra" money as cash, and then deposit that cash elsewhere. The check will bounce and you will be held accountable.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other service. Anyone who asks you to wire money is a scammer.
  • Never apply for jobs listed by someone far away or in another country.
  • Never agree to a background check unless you have met the employer in person.
  • Never apply for a job that is emailed to you out of the blue.

How can I report a scam?

To report a scam, you can file a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission here: 

A video on how to report a scam can be found here:


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