How to Avoid Off-Campus Job Scams:

Some job scams are easy to spot while others appear legitimate. Watch this informative video on job scams posted by the Federal Trade Commission.

Common Job Scams Targeting College Students:

  • Mystery shoppers
  • Envelope stuffing from home
  • Repackaging or shipping from home
  • Issuing checks or check processing from home
  • Model/talent agencies
  • Pyramid sales schemes
  • A variety of scams where a student is asked to pay for certification, training materials, or equipment with the promise of reimbursement
  • Watch out for over-payment scams. These are often posted as a bookkeeper, personal assistant, administrative assistant, etc., to assist in processing checks or mystery/secret shoppers. The “company” sends a check to the “assistant” (student), who is then responsible for taking their “salary” out of the check and wiring the remainder of the money back to the “company.” These checks are fraudulent and can leave you out thousands of dollars and facing criminal charges.


  • Contact the Office of Student Employment at if you think a job listing on our website is a scam.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Question if an employer says they’re hiring you based on resume alone. Any reputable employer normally requires an interview before hiring.
  • Use personal contacts, LinkedIn or other networking sites to verify the company representative is a legitimate employee of the company.


  • Don’t give out personal information like your social security or bank account number over email or phone.
  • Don’t 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.
  • Don’t cash a check that comes with “extra” money. 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.
  • Don’t wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other service. Anyone who asks you to wire money is a scammer.
  • Don’t apply for jobs listed by someone far away or in another country.
  • Don’t agree to a background check unless you have met the employer in person.
  • Don’t apply for a job that is emailed to you out of the blue.

Victim of a Job Scam?

  1. Cease all contact with the employer.
  2. Report the fraudulent employer to UAPD at 205-348-5454.
  3. Contact your bank, if you have sent or received any money to/from the fraudulent employer.
  4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).