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Although the vast majority of internships and job postings are legitimate, it is important for students to know the warning signs to watch for. Students should notify the Career Center if they have any concerns by calling (718 951 5696) or emailing Being notified about negative internship/job experiences allows us to assist students with handling the situation, and prevent other students from applying in the future.

LOOK OUT FOR THESE RED FLAGS! The list below does not necessarily mean the position or company is not legitimate but it should cause you to do deeper research before proceeding.

  • The internship is unpaid but does not comply with DOL's Guidelines for Unpaid Internships.   
  • There is a generic description of what the company does, and not what the intern/employee will do.
  • Limited details about the organization are available.
  • The employer uses a personal email account to communicate.  Be leery of those wanting to communicate on Google Hangouts, Skype, or through text. 
  • Difficult to contact or identify the person who posted the position.
  • The listing contains poor grammar and/or spelling.
  • The employer asks for your social security number or other personal information, before hiring you.
  • You are set to work in a home office or residence versus a business office setting - the internship/job can also be virtual where you work from home.
  • The organization has no established website.
  • Be cautious of startup organizations; some can be unorganized and not in compliance with DOL guidelines.
  • The organization posted an internship after mid-semester when it is too late to make arrangements for academic credit.
  • The organization uses street canvassers.
  • You did not apply for the position (this may happen but it is best to call the company to make sure it is a real person).
  • Contacts you via LinkedIn, or other social media outlet.  (While this can be legitimate, you should always try to call or email the company’s Human Resources department, to find out if they really have such a job opening and, if the name of a recruiter is given, ask if that person really works for them.)
  • Employment agencies that charge a fee; some legitimate agencies do charge but it is best to do a lot of research before paying.
  • The employer makes a job offer over the phone or via email without an interview.  
  • The employer requests for an interview during non-business hours.
  • The opportunity sounds too good to be true. An example of this can be the organization offers a high hourly rate or salary.
  • The employer makes inappropriate comments or has unprofessional behavior during the interview or after.
  • Asks you to send money or to deposit money.
  • The employer asks illegal interview questions.
  • The employer uses an e-mail address or website that may look legitimate but differs slightly from the real organization's e-mail address and/or website (one letter off).  The phone number or address does not match the company.

Types of Scams:

Never accept a check or any kind of funds from a company to purchase materials necessary for your position.  Or send money

The frequency, complexity, and variety of employment scams are on the rise. Below you will find examples of four common employment scams:

Payment Forward Scams

After you apply for a “position” or reply to an e-mail the bogus “employer” replies with instructions to complete a task. The task: you receive a check in the mail with instructions to deposit the check into your account, and send a percentage, via wire transfer, to another person. The employer promises that you will keep a percentage. This scam is sometimes referred to as a “money mule,” posted under the titles of “financial manager”, “payment processor”, or “transaction specialist”.

Do not accept the check. The check will bounce and you, the job seeker, will lose whatever money you sent to the “employer”.   

They will ask you to deposit a check, transfer some of the money to someone else or to purchase other items. But in reality the money received is stolen, often the result of fraud on accounts, and is then laundered to overseas bank accounts. 

Application Fee or Training Scams

These scams charge you an “application fee” or ask you to pay for “mandatory training” in exchange for “guaranteed” employment. The cruise line, postal service industry and security officers have been used as pawns in this scam.

Phishing Scams

Unsolicited emails or texts from “employers” declaring that they are responding to your posted resume are typically examples of phishing scams. They will often state that your skills match the position that needs to be filled, but they need more information from you. The information they are seeking is often personal information, which can be used to steal your identity.

Mystery/Secret Shopper Scams

There are legitimate mystery shopping companies that hire college students and others to provide feedback to retailers and restaurants. Unfortunately, many mystery shopper postings are scams. This scam also occurs through unsolicited emails or via online job posting boards. Typically the “company” asks you to pay a fee to become an “employee” or “mystery shop”

If a job sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is…don’t pursue it without diligent research.

Legitimate employers will not:

Ask for your bank account details or your SSN prior to a job interview, job offer and/or job acceptance.  They will not ask you to send money or to deposit money.

Prior to a legitimate job acceptance, don’t:

  • Provide financial information
  • Provide a copy of your driver’s license
  • Provide a copy of your SS card
  • Provide a copy of your Student ID

What to do if you are caught by a Scam:

  • Assess how much of your personal information is potentially out there.
  • Get in touch with your bank or credit-card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately.
  • Notify the Magner Career Center.

For further information on recognizing and protecting yourself from job posting scams view the following links:

Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information

Better Business Bureau

 Protections for INTERNS in the Workplace

The Magner Career Center has no affiliation with these employers and can make no representation or guarantees concerning positions listed. While the vast majority of positions are legitimate, we have seen an increase in the number of scam employers who are using job posting sites to scam students. While the center does vet the employer and postings, it is students' responsibility to do additional research before they apply or interview for a position, even if the posting is on HireBC. Scam employers are becoming more sophisticated in evading detection during the vetting process by masquerading as legitimate companies.

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