Career Exploration and Development

How to Avoid Job Scams

With all the web-based career and job search resources out there, it has never been easier to connect with potential employers. Unfortunately, there are also some bad actors that use the same channels to defraud jobseekers. 

Students may occasionally receive emails from individuals posing as employers offering unsolicited "job opportunities." Often, the job is described as a remote or virtual “office assistant." While the details may differ, the most common scheme is to trick the recipient into a) providing personal information (such as address, SS#, and bank information) to be used in future identity theft, and/or b) depositing a fraudulent check (which will bounce within a few days or weeks), and then purchasing items or sending checks with their own money.

Some job scams will look suspicious right off the bat, and other scammers may use increasingly sophisticated techniques to appear legitimate, such as spoofing email addresses, setting up fake websites, and posing as members of the Oberlin community.

So what’s a jobseeker to do? Read on to find out how to identify and deal with potential job scams.

Legitimate opportunities are well within your reach! Whether you need help looking for a job or internship - or you want to vet an offer you’ve received - please contact us at or schedule an appointment with a career advisor.

If you receive an unsolicited email from someone claiming to offer a job or internship, look out for the following red flags:

  • A non-company-sponsored email address, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo!
  • Claims to have been referred to you by the college or Career Exploration and Development (CED does not give out students’ contact information)
  • Does not list a company name
  • Offers to pay a large amount of money for almost no work
  • Contains spelling or grammatical errors
  • Offers to send you a check before you do any work
  • Asks for your credit card or banking information
  • Offers you a large payment for allowing the use of your bank account (often for depositing checks or transferring money)
  • Asks you to send payment by wire service or courier
  • Sends you an unexpectedly large check

If you receive such an email, Career Exploration and Development (CED) advises you to:

  1. Never provide any personal information by email to an employer.
  2. Avoid clicking any links or downloading any attachments from a suspicious email.
  3. Review and follow CIT’s phishing guidelines.
  4. Use a different strong password for each online account.
  5. Never share passwords with others.
  6. Whenever suspicious/curious, Google the web addresses, names used, companies mentioned, phone numbers given, all email addresses, or even sentences from the emails - scammers often use the same or similar language.
  7. If the individual claims to be an Oberlin alum, look for them on networking sites such as LinkedIn and OberLink. CED staff can also help with this.
  8. Reach out to our office if you have questions or concerns about any job posting that seems “too good to be true."

These guidelines have been adapted with permission from the Indiana State University Career Center.

Additional Resources