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Red Flags: Identify & Filter out Job Scams

Career Exploration and Success offers Rutgers Handshake as a resource for employers to connect with Rutgers-New Brunswick students and alumni seeking internships, co-ops, and career-related jobs. Nationally, career services departments are reporting an uptick in fraudulent employer postings to online platforms. CES strives to keep fraudulent and scam postings off the system; however, it is impossible to ensure that every posting is legitimate and impossible to keep track of every position after submission. CES relies on students to notify us if they feel a posting is potentially fraudulent. Rutgers University also has resources available to assist students with protecting their identity. Therefore, we are sharing common “red flags,” to be on the lookout for when utilizing Handshake or any other posting system.

Some job scams are easy to spot while others appear legitimate. So how do you know who to trust? You can start with these basic guidelines to avoid a potential scam.


  • Give out personal information like your social security, credit card, or bank account number over email or phone.
  • Take cashier’s checks or money orders as a form of payment. Fake checks are common and the bank where you cash it will hold you accountable.
  • Cash a check that comes with “extra” money. Scammers send checks that require you to deposit a check at your bank, withdraw the “extra” money as cash, and then deposit that cash elsewhere. The check will bounce and you will be held accountable.
  • Agree to purchase gift cards or equipment for an employer.
  • Wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other service. Anyone who asks you to wire money is a scammer.
  • Agree to a background check unless you have met the employer in person.
  • Apply for a job that is emailed to you out of the blue.


  • Review jobs thoroughly. If a job is offering a lot of money for very little work, it could be a scammer trying to get personal information from you.
  • Research the employer. Do they have a reputable website or professional references? Is the job listing you want to apply for also on their main career page? Note: work-study jobs may not be advertised on employer websites.
  • Check employer messages carefully for typos and incorrect grammar, as well as non-professional email addresses, ex.
  • Meet face-to-face with a potential employer. An in-person interview or informal discussion will help you determine the employer’s intentions.
    • Be sure to choose a public place to meet, tell someone where you are going and bring your cell phone, just in case.
  • Trust your instincts. If a job sounds too good to be true, it is likely a scam.


A student applies for an online data entry job posted by a scammer from out-of-state. When payday rolls around, the scammer tells the student they will receive a cashier’s check, however, the value of the check will be more than what the student has earned. The scammer offers to “trust” the student and asks that they repay the difference with a wire transfer. The student cashes the cashier’s check and then wires the scammer the balance. Even though the bank cashes the check, it is later discovered to be a fake and does not clear. The student now owes the bank the full value of the check.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission for more examples and signs of a job scam at Job Scams | Consumer Advice (


The Office of Career Exploration and Success has been alerted by various sources to employment scams that are targeting college students. You can review recent alerts here.


To report a scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Check out their video on how to report scams and more ways to avoid fraud.

If you think a job listing on the Rutgers Handshake platform, or through any other means, is suspicious, let us know! We can remove the job posting and provide you with further information. You should also contact to help mitigate any potential threat of ID Theft.

Our goal is to provide accurate job listing information on our website; however, we make no representations or guarantees about positions posted by our office. You are responsible for your own safety, wages, and working conditions. Review our disclaimer for more information.

Information adapted from the University of Colorado Boulder