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.

Sensitive Information

  • Never give out personal information like your social security or bank account number over email or phone.
  • Never agree to a background check unless you have met the employer in person.

Money or Suspicious Forms of Payment

  • Never 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.
  • Never cash a check that comes with “extra” money and do not buy gift cards and send bar codes at an employer's request. 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.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other service. Anyone who asks you to wire money is a scammer.

Aggressive Recruitment Tactics

  • Pressure from employer to cash check or money order immediately, uses rude or pushy language, or is unusually specific about method of payment such as gift cards, crypto, or payment apps. Scammer may use sad story or situation to gain sympathy.
  • Never apply for a job that is emailed to you out of the blue.
  • Never apply for jobs listed by someone far away or in another country.

Use Good Judgment

  • Be skeptical. 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.
  • Meet face-to-face with a potential employer. An in-person interview or informal chat over coffee 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.

Job Scam Scenario

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 job scam.

Recent Scam Alert

The FBI alerted universities of an employment scam that is targeting college students. Stay up-to-date on scam news by signing up for scam alerts.

Reporting Fraud & Scam

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

If you think a job listing on the CU Boulder Student Job Database is suspicious, let us know! We can remove the job posting and alert our CU Police Department.

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.