DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Tips for Identifying Fraudulent Employers & Job Listings

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

For many of us, our number one goal right now is to do everything in our power to secure that coveted full-time employment title with a company whose mission and promised salary aligns with our own values and goals. There are resources left and right that are here to get us there—Handshake is one of them. However, despite the fact that employers are vetted before allowed access to Handshake, sometimes a few bad apples slip through the cracks.

A “fraudulent employer” could be a made-up company, or, it could be a scammer or impersonator pretending to be affiliated with a legitimate organization. We need to protect ourselves from such scams by watching for suspicious requests and actions. Here are a few warning signs to look out for when applying for jobs or communicating with employers on any online job search site, including LinkedIn, Career Builder, and Handshake, to name a few.

They ask for your money

If an employer is requesting your bank account information, credit card numbers, etc. this is a great sign to run the other way. Legitimate employers will not ask for this type of information online or even over the phone. Many times these employers will justify this ask by saying they need this information in order to cover a startup cost or initial fee associated with your application or employment; real companies will not ask you to pay for your job. Now, let’s say you missed this warning sign. If you have given a scammer your credit card information, contact your bank immediately, close the account, and dispute the charges.

Company contact information isn’t legitimate

Rutgers University found that fraudulent employers usually possess non-business email domains or utilize personal email addresses in place of company email addresses. This is a red flag. Keep in mind that getting in touch with a company should not be a challenge. If their website link doesn’t work or only provides rudimentary information with little to no depth on the company’s mission, available jobs, or location, etc. you should proceed with caution and verify their business status through more research. Check out the Better Business Bureau,, AT&T’s Anywho and the Chamber of Commerce to verify employer legitimacy.

There is a clear lack of professionalism

The telltale sign of a fraudulent employer is a job posting riddled with misspellings and grammatical faux pas. Ask yourself, if the employer can’t get a simple job posting right, what else are they doing wrong?

The position sounds too good to be true

The University of Michigan points out in their guide against fraud that these employers often try to entice you with the promise of a position that allows you to work from home, has only minimal responsibility, requires vague skills and offers a hearty salary. It’s important to recognize that legitimate employers will be up front in providing a detailed job description of the job responsibilities and duties to see if you are right for the job.

You’re immediately hired

Let’s get real—no application process is so seamless that you are immediately hired without an interview. Actual employers take their time reviewing resumes and cover letters; therefore, if you receive an immediate response from someone after you send in your application, proceed with caution. In their fraudulent employer guide, the University of Iowa points out that oftentimes, fraudulent employers use this technique to pique your interest and gather as much personal information from you as possible in a short window of time.

Your research efforts indicate fraud is a possibility

The power of Google should never be underestimated. Put on your detective hat and start searching the company name along with key phrases such as, “fraudulent job postings” or “scam.” If the search results show a slew of online articles detailing a hoax, there’s a good chance this so-called job is the work of a scammer.

If you encounter any suspicious activity—on Handshake or otherwise—please be sure to notify Kate Dalin, the Career Center’s associate director of employer engagement and on-campus recruiting. With a watchful eye, you can aid in the Career Center’s efforts to create a safe and rewarding environment for job seekers. If you or your friends do become victims of fraudulent employers, contact DePaul’s Student Legal Services for further guidance and support. Please also consider reviewing the Federal Trade Commission’s resource for navigating and reporting job scams, and filing a complaint report with their agency.

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