Scam or Not?

Photo of a student using a laptop to research scams.

Vetting a Potential Employer

Sadly, there are scammers out there hoping to capitalize on your desire to land a job. There are ways to educate yourself, though, so you do not fall victim to them. First, watch this 3-minute video about job scams offered by the Federal Trade Commission. 

Research, research, research:

  • Check out organizations before you apply.  At GlassDoor, you can search millions of job listings and see company salaries, employee reviews, and inside connections for any company. Search for them on LinkedIn and, if they are traded on the stock exchange, a site like Morningstar or Yahoo! Finance.
  • Search for them on Ripoff Report to see if they have been reported by consumers. If they show up on the report, you probably should avoid them. The site also provides information on work-at-home scams, as well as a link to a .pdf detailing Career Services scams.
  • Google the organization!  It seems obvious, but it can be quite effective in getting a sense of the legitimacy of an organization.
  • The Better Business Bureau can be a good resource if you are looking into a local company or non-profit that isn’t widely known.  Search by your zip code, and search for the company. 
  • Are you interested in working for not-for-profits?  Go to GuideStar and  CharityNavigator to vet organizations from a donor’s viewpoint. 

Familiarize yourself with job search scams:

  • Recognizing the scams will help you avoid them. To get a sense of the types of scams to watch out for, read advice from jobhunt.org and from craigslist.
  • Check out the list of known emails and names associated with recent scams from MSU's Career Services.
  • Be sure also to read this blog from CareerSolvers for an overview of employment scams.

Quick tips: 

  • Check to make sure the recruiter’s email is coming from a company domain and not a general email account. Look for verifiable contact information on the posting and cross check this information via a search engine or a site such as Superpages.com.
  • Check the company domain registration using tools such as DomainTools.com and note how long the domain name has been registered. Do not trust if the domain name is a couple of days to a couple of months old or if it is private which means that there is no employer contact information to verify.
  • If you have to pay any fees for “training” or purchase any product before you are hired, it’s most likely a scam – Buyer beware.

Job search scams look very appealing, and even smart people can fall victim to them. The result can be loss of the money you do have, trouble with the IRS or other law enforcement agency, and identity theft when your SSN is provided to the fake “employer.” Trust after you verify!