Spotting and Reporting Job Scams

Please be aware of possible scams that may come via email or through various online job boards. 

Some due diligence can help you to determine the validity about an offer or posting.  As a general rule, you will never receive a legitimate job offer if you have not met with or spoken to the employer.  A legitimate employer will never ask for money, bank information, or a social security number on an application

A few tips to keep in mind:

Please exercise caution by researching positions and companies before revealing any personal information. Here are a few ways to research an opportunity and its validity:

  • Review the employer’s website- Look for a mission statement, contact information, an “about the organization” section, and other pieces that are often found on legitimate organization pages.
  • Google it- Do a search on the organization. Check sites like Glassdoor or Indeed to see what others are saying about working for the organization. Try to find the recruiter on LinkedIn and verify that their title aligns with the email or posting.
  • Check if others are complaining- Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s office, and federal websites to see if any complaints have been filed about the organization in question.
  • Still not sure? Reach out to the Career Center to see if this is a reported scam or something you should be wary of. Often times you’re not the only student to receive an email.

 A legitimate employer will never ask for money, bank information, or a social security number on an application.

  • Direct deposit should never be setup before you start working. This should be done with a HR professional once you’ve actually started the job. Never share your personal financial information digitally. 
  • Scammers will often offer to send you a check to get started or set up a home office. These checks are fraudulent and can compromise your account. You should never deposit these checks.
  • Never forward, transfer, or wire money to an employer. 


Sometimes these scammers can seem legit:

Scammers are incredibly sophisticated and are not always easy to spot. They pose as actual recruiters from valid companies, as organizations that work to provide you opportunities like international internships, or want to offer you a dream work-from-home scenario. Common scenarios that students see are:

  • Unsolicited Job Postings Emailed to Student- Fraudulent employer sends student an email with legit looking job and asks to call, text or email back.
  • Fraudulent Person Posing as a Legitimate Employer- Company or Recruiter name maybe legit but email address and contact information does not match legitimate employer. 
  • Pressuring you to act- Scammers know that if you feel pressured you are more likely to make a hasty decision. Legitimate employers follow guidelines that allow you time to make an informed decision. If they set unrealistic timelines that require immediate action you should be suspicious.

Trust your instincts.  If something seems off or too good to be true, please do your due diligence.

If you receive an email that you believe is SPAM or a job scam, please report it to WashU IT by following the directions on this page.

If you ever have questions about the legitimacy of an opportunity, reach out to the Career Center to investigate. We are here to support you!