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  • Fraudulent Employers: Tips for Career Centers and Students

    Organizational Structure
    A young man researches a potential employer to ensure it isn't fraudulent.

    TAGS: best practices, legal issues, ethics, principles, privacy

    by the NACE Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee

    Unfortunately, not all employment opportunities are legitimate; entities may pose as employers as part of a scam to elicit personal information from or otherwise defraud their victims. Career centers and students alike must be vigilant about fraudulent employers and should identify steps to take to verify the legitimacy of an employer.

    Important: If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact your local police.

    Career Centers: Steps to Consider

    Here are some examples of steps career centers can use to ensure that an employer is legitimate. Ultimately, it is up to each school to determine which ones to use. (Please note: The recommendations contained herein do not constitute legal advice, and you are encouraged to speak to your legal counsel to discuss these issues more fully.)

    • Use Google Maps to make sure the company has a “real” address.
    • Match e-mails to reflect the company website.
    • Does the company have a website? Is it legitimate?
    • Contact questionable employers; ask questions about the company.
    • Check your career management system for a trust score/trust level for the employer.
    • Hire staff specifically focused on and trained in fraud.
    • Consult with your legal counsel or services.
    • Alert staff of standard operating procedures related to potential fraud.
    • Check with colleagues to determine if they are aware of or have had dealings with the employer.

    Students: Red Flags to Consider

    What are some “red flags” students should be aware of and consider to avoid fraudulent employers when using online job and internship sites?

    • Research company websites thoroughly: Does the company have a website? Does the website match up with the posting? Does the website look legitimate? Look to see if the organization is using a company domain versus a general Gmail or Hotmail account. Match the e-mail address to the company domain. Watch for e-mail addresses that are similar looking, but not the same. Look for “stock photos,” grammatical errors, and poor use of English language.
    • Be leery of non-approved employment flyers on college campuses and other establishments.
    • Use social media to research each employer, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn. Research the company on websites such as for feedback and complaints.
    • Be cognizant of unsolicited e-mails that are not specifically directed to you. Many employers have access to resumes via career centers. Therefore, reach out to your career center should you have any concerns or questions.
    • Keep your private information private! Don’t share personal information, e.g., social security numbers, banking information, credit or debit card numbers, PINs, passwords, birthday, address, mother’s maiden name).
    • Never process ANY financial transactions. For example: Some companies offer opportunities to “make money really quick.” They will offer a “one day only special.” Their intent is to defraud you by sending or wiring money to your bank account. They will ask you to cash the check or send the monies to other accounts. Once your bank or financial institution processes the scammer’s check or financial request, you may be informed the monies are invalid or “not real.” In the meantime, you are held responsible for the funds the bank has sent at your direction to other accounts.
    • Fraudulent companies are phishing for the unsuspecting, including you. Be aware of what you share and post online. If you feel uncomfortable or aren’t sure about certain companies or employers, talk to your career center.

    Bottom line, if you have any questions, talk to someone before pursuing any opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Additional Resources From the FBI

    Internet Crime Complaint Center

    Employment Scam Targeting College Students Remains Prevalent

    File an Internet crime complaint with the FBI.

    FBI fraud alert poster

    Posted August 2018.

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