Spring is season for student employment scams

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—After spring break, most college students get serious about making work plans for the summer months.

But not all summer job offerings come from reputable employers, warns Lynn Kelly-Albertson, executive director of professional and career development at Western Michigan University.

"Most opportunities are legitimate and can give you experience and money, and build your skills. However, this is the season for scams," Kelly-Albertson says. "A good rule to keep in mind is: 'If a job opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'"

She adds that although WMU's Career and Student Employment Services screens employers before listing them in BroncoJOBS, the University's comprehensive database of jobs, even CSES may occasionally miss a scammer.

"We've compiled a list of 'red flags' to look for to help students identify fictitious or disreputable employers," Kelly-Albertson says. "We urge students to review them before accepting any job offer."

Red flags to look for

CSES suggests that when job hunting, students think twice about getting involved with presumed employers that:

  • Disseminate unprofessional materials—If you receive an email that has spelling errors, typos, misused words or bad grammar, it probably is not a legitimate email from the stated company and may not even be from an actual company at all.
  • Send out email from personal accounts—If a person contacts you from a personal email account, such as through Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, do not give them your information. Most enterprises conduct business through a business email account.
  • Request personal contact information before sharing job information—If a person asks for your home mailing address, personal cell phone number or personal email account, do not provide that information except when completing a formal employment application.
  • Request sensitive financial or other personal information—Never provide banking information, credit card information or your social security number over the phone or via email. A legitimate company will not ask you for this information until you are filling out hiring paperwork that will include federal and state documents.
  • Have new employees start working before filling out paperwork—When a company wishes to hire you, it will have you complete hiring paperwork and forms for tax purposes before you start to work.
  • Have employees expend their own money to conduct company business—Never invest your money and never conduct a wire transfer to a client, customer or anyone else. You should not have to pay out of pocket to do your job or have to use your personal bank account to conduct company business.

Additional information

Kelly-Albertson encourages students who have questions or who have been contacted by a suspicious company or recruiter to call CSES at (269) 387-2745 or stop by its office in Ellsworth Hall.

To research common fraud schemes, visit the FBI's website for fraud at fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm. To research the legitimacy of a company, refer to the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

Those wishing to file a formal complaint with the state of Michigan should contact the Consumer Protection Division in the State Attorney General's Office at michigan.gov/ag.

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