Too good to be true? How to spot scam job posts

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Handshake and other online job systems make it easier for you to find positions. Unfortunately, the same technology makes it easier for scammers to create fraudulent positions. While Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education works hard to screen employers and the positions posted to Handshake, it is important that you know what to look out for to avoid fraudulent job postings.

If a position or job offer seems too good to be true, if you feel uncomfortable with some of the information requested or if something just doesn't seem right - proceed with caution. 

Here are some warning signs:

  • You are asked to give credit card, bank account or PayPal account numbers
  • You are asked to send a 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
  • You are asked to transfer money via eBay, PayPal or Western Union
  • You are asked for personal information, such as your Social Security Number
  • You are asked to send a photocopy of your ID, i.e., driver's license to "verify identity"
  • You are asked to complete a background check before you can be considered for a position
  • The posting appears to come from a legitimate company or organization, but the contact's email address doesn't match the company's website (i.e., rather than
  • The job posting doesn't mention the responsibilities of the job and mainly focuses on the amount of money you will make

Additionally, you may receive a job offer in response to your application to a position description that appears legitimate, but is actually a marketing email to sell you job search "help." Some other tips for these situations:

  • Be wary of postings for mystery shoppers, work at home, or virtual administrative assistants or bookkeepers. Some opportunities are legitimate, but many others are not.
  • Gather as much information as possible about positions for independent contractors or franchise opportunities, especially those that are not explicitly advertised as such. Some opportunities are legitimate business opportunities. Others are opportunities in which some people who don't succeed lose money. Others are scams.
  • Beware of positions that require a financial investment or upfront fees.
  • If you are an entry-level candidate with little experience, be wary of an offer with a salary that is way out of range.
  • Multiple misspellings in a job notice are often a sign of trouble.
  • If the position listing is for an international opportunity, does it include travel expenses? Upfront program fees? Research the organization and compare its program/benefits with other similar opportunities.
  • Verify that a URL listed in the ad goes to the internet domain of the company that listed it. If it does not, it could be a scam.
  • When using job boards other than Handshake, read their privacy policies carefully. Also, read how easy it is for employers to post jobs by going through the site's employer links.

If you have questions or concerns about job postings, a position for which you've applied, a task you've been asked to complete as part of the application process or a job offer, please contact Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education at