Protect Your Students from Fraudulent Employers
"Earn $3000 in one day"
Either you have an ambitious New Year's resolution or you've come across what is most likely a fraudulent job posting. During the upcoming season, a time when career offices close for the break and students are eager to earn quick cash for holiday shopping, we typically see an increase in the number of scam postings. Now is the time for career offices to proactively educate staff and student to recognize fraudulent posting "red flags". To assist in this effort, Symplicity staff has compiled a variety of facts, advice and resources dedicated to fraud posting prevention.
Earlier this year, Symplicity implemented system enhancements that have significantly reduced the number of fraudulent postings. Members of the Symplicity team are dedicated to reviewing postings each day, so that questionable entries are rejected before they even reach the school. The recent modifications included:
1) Pre-vetting of all jobs posted by non-corporate emails / non-government / non-organization (in other words, jobs posted by contacts with gmail, hotmail, etc. domains)
2) Pre-vetting of all jobs posted by contacts that do not have an approved account in any CSM system instance.
3) Enabled "blacklisting" so that schools can prevent employers from ever posting to their school.
These measures, combined with the vigilance of many career offices, have stopped several repeat offenders from entering jobs in our system. However, these measures are not fool proof. We must again stress that making students aware of fraud posting red flags is a critical component in deterring scammers from posting within our network.
Fraud Posting Red Flags
What are fraud posting red flags? Thanks to the many professionals who responded to our inquiry on LinkedIn or the NACElink Users Listserv, as well as our job surveillance team at Symplicity, we have devised these fraud warning signs:
- You must provide your credit card, bank account numbers, or other personal financial documentation.
- The posting appears to be from a reputable, familiar company (often a Fortune 500). Yet, the domain in the contact's email address does not match the domain used by representatives of the company (this is typically easy to determine from the company's website). Another way to validate is to check the open positions on the company's website.
- The contact email address contains the domain @live.com.
- The position requires an initial investment, such as a payment by wire service or courier.
- The posting includes many spelling and grammatical errors.
- The position initially appears as a traditional job...upon further research, it sounds more like an independent contractor opportunity. Debbie Kaylor, Career Center Director at Boise State University, discusses this further in her blog posting at: http://www.bsucareercenter.blogspot.com/.
- You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account (often for depositing checks or transferring money).
- You receive an unexpectedly large check (checks are typically slightly less than $500, generally sent or deposited on Fridays).
- You are asked to provide a photo of yourself.
- The position is for any of the following: Envelope Stuffers, Home-based Assembly Jobs, Online Surveys.
- The posting neglects to mention what the responsibilities of the job actually are. Instead, the description focuses on the amount of money to be made.
- 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. Note - this does not include an auto-response you may receive from the employer once you have sent your resume.
- The position indicates a "first year compensation" that is in high excess to the average compensation for that position type.
- Look at the company's website. Does it have an index that tells you what the site is about; or does it contain information only about the job you are interested in? Scammers often create quick, basic web pages that seem legit at first glance.
- Watch for anonymity. If it is difficult to find an address, actual contact, company name, etc. - this is cause to proceed with caution. Fraud postings are illegal, so scammers will try to keep themselves well-hidden.
- The salary range listed is very wide (i.e. "employees can earn from $40K - $80K the first year!")
- When you Google the company name and the word "scam" (i.e. Acme Company Scam), the results show several scam reports concerning this company. Another source for scam reports is: http://www.ripoffreport.com.
- Google the employer's phone number, fax number and/or email address. If it does not appear connected to an actual business organization, this is a red flag. The Symplicity team often uses the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/us/consumers/), Hoovers (http://www.hoovers.com/) and AT&T's Anywho (http://www.anywho.com/) to verify organizations.
- The employer contacts you by phone, however there is no way to call them back. The number is not available.
- The employer tells you that they do not have an office set-up in your area, and will need you to help them get it up and running (these postings often include a request for your banking information, supposedly to help the employer make transactions).
What if a Student is Already Involved in a Scam?
We called the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and received the following instructions for schools to share with students who have responded to fraudulent postings.
- The student should 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 it is a situation where the student has sent money to a fraud employer:
the student should contact their bank or credit card company immediately to close the account and dispute the charges
- If the incident occurred completely over the Internet, the student should file an incident report with the: http://www.cybercrime.gov/, or by calling the FTC at: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Proactive Measures Your Office can Implement Now
Fraudulent contacts are primarily entering through the school's local employer registration and job posting forms, as opposed to through the OneStop system. To that end, we recommend activating the job posting and employer registration holding bins within your CSM system. While this task does require staff time, it has proven an effective method for preventing fraud postings at many schools.
Another preventative measure is to disable the ability for employers to batch email all students in a resume book. Career office staff are cautioned to provide resume book access only to trusted employers.
Many career offices have used the Announcements section of the CSM student interface to warn students of fraud postings (see the examples below). By inputting the words "site:.edu career services (fraud job posting red flags)" into a Google search, you can find many more examples.
- The Career Center at California State University, Fullerton, kindly shared the content of an announcement that continually runs on their Career Services Manager (CSM) student interface:
Avoiding Scams - General Tips For Students:
It is very important for you to educate yourself about potential scams. Here are some good tips that the job is probably fraudulent:
- The promise of a large salary for very little work - especially those that state thousands of dollars of income per month with little or no experience required.
- Positions that ask you to give credit card or bank account numbers, or copies of personal documents.
- Jobs that ask you to send payment by wire service or courier.
- Positions in which you are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account - often for depositing checks or transferring money.
- While there are legitimate opportunities for individuals to work from home, be sure to research the position in advance of applying.
If you suspect a position is fraudulent, please contact [our employer relations specialist]. If you believe you are the victim of fraud resulting from a job listing, please contact the local police as well.
- Another proactive career office advised us that they post the following video from the FTC on their student site: http://ftc.gov/jobscams
- The University of Chicago at Illinois offers fraud tips for students to be mindful of when viewing job postings, or when they receive an email from an employer. Their career office frequently alternates between displaying one of the following announcements to students:
Please be aware that there are FAKE job posting being sent via email. If you receive an email that meets the following criteria it's probably not a real job offer. Do not click on any links in that email and DO NOT provide any personal information!
Beware if the email:
* does not indicate the company name
* offers to pays a large amount for almost no work
* offers you a job without ever interacting with you
* wants you to transfer money from one account to another
* offers to send you a check before you do any work
* asks you to give your credit card or bank account numbers, or copies of personal documents - but you get nothing in writing
* says you must send payment by wire service or courier
* offers you a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account - often for depositing checks or transferring money
* sends you an unexpectedly large check
If you see a position in our system that you believe may be a scam please notify your career or internship office. If you receive an email that meets the following criteria, do not respond, delete the email.
If a job meets the following criteria please do not apply.
* You must give your credit card or bank account numbers, or copies of personal documents - but you get nothing in writing.
* You must send payment by wire service or courier.
* You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account - often for depositing checks or transferring money.
* You receive an unexpectedly large check.
Loyola University in Chicago created a short warning message in their Student Announcements that links to a page entitled: "Safety Tips for Your Online Job Search": http://www.luc.edu/career/jobsearch_safety.shtml.
Please remember that fraud postings are not limited to multi-school jobs, but can also be posted though your local job posting form. In addition, fraud posting scams are impacting job boards of all types; students should be aware to proceed with extreme caution when utilizing job sites not supported by their career center.
If you have any questions or doubts regarding a multi-school job posting in your CSM system, please do not hesitate to submit an issue through your Symplicity Extranet account indicating the name of the employer and the reason you feel they may be fraudulent. Remember: your school reserves the right to accept or reject any employers or job postings.