Familiarizing yourself with scams

Though Handshake is a trusted recruitment platform, job search scams can occur, as they do with any other online platform. If a position or job offer seems too good to be true, you feel uncomfortable with some of the information requested, or something just does not seem right, either back away or proceed with extreme caution.

When applying to any position and before giving any personal information, it is always best to research an employer thoroughly by reviewing their website, Googling the employer's name followed by “fraud,” “scam,” and “complaints,” and searching for recent news articles that may pertain to them.

Check and Money Order Scams

The underlying premise to this scam is based on the victim receiving a counterfeit check or money order, depositing the item in their own bank account, and, to “demonstrate their ability to follow instructions correctly and quickly,” the victim is asked to forward a portion of the funds through a wire transfer service (Moneygram or Western Union) to the next person (the scammer). Later, when the counterfeit check bounces, the victim realized that the money they have forwarded was actually their own money and it is now lost from their account.

No legitimate job or company will EVER ask you to send money to them.

Learn more

You can read more about this frequent type of scam on the Federal Trade Commission's Fake Check Scams page.

Job Search Safety Tips

Here are some common red flags that may indicate you have encountered a job scam:

  • You are hired without ever interviewing or meeting your potential employer.
  • There are multiple misspellings in the job description and/or correspondence with the employer.
  • At the time of hire, the employer tells you they are traveling internationally and needs you to be their assistant and run errands for them.
  • You are asked to give your credit card, bank, or PayPal account numbers. 
  • You are asked to send a payment by wire service or courier or transfer money.
  • You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account — often depositing checks or transferring money.
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check, are promised a very large salary for very little work, or are offered an extremely high salary compared to similar positions.
  • You are asked for personal information, such as your social security number, or asked to complete a background check before being considered for the position.
  • You are requested to send a photocopy of your ID (e.g., driver’s license) to “verify identity.”
  • The posting appears to come from a legitimate company or organization, but the contract’s email address does not match the company’s website domain (e.g., jdoe@gmail.com rather than jdoe@companyname.com).
  • The job posting doesn’t match the responsibilities of the job; rather it focuses on the amount of money you will make.
  • The position requires upfront fees.

What to Do About Suspicious Postings

If you encounter suspicious postings in Handshake, think you may have experienced a check scam, or receive a phishing email that contains a job offer for a position to which you have not applied, it is important to take action.

Here are your next steps to take action:

  1. Report your experience to Career Services at spucareercenter@spu.edu or 206-281-2485, and to The Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  2. End all communication with the employer, and if personal information was disclosed, monitor your accounts.
  3. Contact the police and report the fraud or scam.
  4. If you have sent money to a fraudulent employer, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to close your account and dispute the charges.
  5. If you received a phishing email to your SPU email address, report this to the Computer Information Systems Help Desk at help@spu.edu. Read to the bottom of the Security page regarding forwarding complete phishing email headers.
  6. If the incident occurred entirely over the internet, file an incident report with the FCC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or with the U.S. Department of Justice.