Avoiding Job and Internship Scams

When evaluating potential employment, you must be careful to avoid scams and fraudulent postings. While Edinboro University makes every attempt to block them, scammers constantly find new ways to bypass the system. Fake job postings can be found not only in online job listing sites, but also in unsolicited emails sent directly to student accounts. You should always carefully research the legitimacy of employers before applying. Here are some ways to protect yourself and identify fake jobs:

Do Your Research

Visit the company’s website

Review websites to help verify legitimacy. If the company does not have one, it takes you to a different website, or it is poorly developed, consider that a red flag. How professional is it? Is there legitimate contact information? Are jobs/internships and career information posted on the site?

Use Google

Search by company name to see what information you can find (if a company name is not provided, consider that a red flag). Take it one step further and search by “[company name] scam” to see if you can find information on reported scams. The following sites may help you to find additional information including any negative reviews:

Review Job/Internship Details

Make sure you receive a complete description of the opportunity including specific responsibilities and required qualifications. If it isn’t included in the posting, ask about compensation. If the position is paid, ask about pay range, how often you will be paid, and method of payment. If the company does not pay an hourly rate or salary, carefully investigate the details. If the offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is!

Common Job Scams Targeting College Students

  • Mystery shoppers
  • Envelope stuffing from home
  • Repackaging or shipping from home
  • Issuing checks/check processing from home
  • Model/talent agencies
  • Pyramid sales schemes
  • A variety of scams where a student is asked to pay for certification, training materials, or equipment – with promise of reimbursement

Don’t Be a Victim of Payment Transfer/Forwarding Scams


  • Provide personal bank account, PayPal account, or credit card information.
  • Participate in wiring or transferring funds from a personal bank account or PayPal account to another account. Often times you may be asked to retain a portion of the funds as payment for your services, which is money you never end up seeing.
  • Agree to have funds or payments direct deposited into your account without knowing and verifying the employer first. Many employers provide the option for direct deposit; however, this typically will not occur until the first day or week of employment – not before.
  • Pay upfront fees for an employer to hire you (there may be some rare exceptions to this).

Beware of These Red Flags

  • Request for logins, passwords, sensitive information, social security number (SSN) or bank account information.
  • Emails/postings that do not indicate the company name.
  • Emails/postings that come from an email address that does not match the company name.
  • Emails/postings that do not give the employer contact information – title of person sending the email, company address, phone number, etc.
  • Emails/postings that offer to pay a large amount for almost no work.
  • Emails/postings that offer you a job without ever interacting with you.
  • Emails/postings that ask you to pay an application fee.
  • Emails/postings that want you to transfer money from one account to another.
  • Emails/postings that offer to send you a check before you do any work.
  • Emails/postings that ask you to give your credit card or bank account numbers.
  • Emails/postings that ask for copies of personal documents.
  • Emails/postings that say you must send payment by wire service or courier.
  • Emails/postings that offer you a large payment for allowing the use of your bank account – often for depositing checks or transferring money.
  • Company/organization does not have an established website or website is poorly developed.
  • Email was unsolicited and sent directly to you (may begin with “Dear Sir or Madam”).
  • Email is sent using a free email service (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) instead of a company domain.
  • Email/correspondence is poorly written and contains misspellings, grammatical errors, or typos.
  • Position described as “work from home and make thousands from your computer.”
  • Request to provide a photo ID to “verify identity” before meeting an employer in person.
  • Position advertised is different from the position offered.
  • An unrealistic salary.

Remember, DO NOT provide sensitive personal information, especially social security numbers or financial information!

Steps to Take for Victims of Job Scams

Have you been scammed or almost scammed? Here is what you should do:

  • Notify all banks/credit unions and close all accounts at the places where scam-related transactions were made.
  • Order a credit report from all three credit bureaus every two to three months to look for unusual activity on accounts. Place fraud alerts if needed.
  • Fraud victims should file a police report with local law enforcement officials and contact the local secret service field agent (for international payment scams).
  • Report the scam to The Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.gov.
  • Report the scam to job sites where the posting was found and/or any companies the scam tried to copy.
  • Contact the PennWest Career Center at career@pennwest.edu to notify us of the scam job.


Federal Trade Commission File a complaint by calling 1-877-382-4357 or visiting www.ftc.gov Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org Credit Bureaus Equifax: 1-800-685-1111, www.equifax.com Experian: 1-800-397-3742, www.Experian.com TransUnion: 1-800-888-4213, www.transunion.com

By Christina Moreschi
Christina Moreschi Director of Career Events and Outreach