Job scams are targeting young professionals: What to look for

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Job scams targeting students and recent college graduates are on the rise. 

The Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert about these types of scams earlier this month.

Here are the most common types of job scams happening and how to spot them: 

Recent college grads job scams

One of the ways job scammers are targeting young professionals right now is by sending them an email from a professor. 

The student will get a job offer recommendation from someone in their community, like a professor or an office at their college.

The emails are from fake accounts made to look identical, or, in some cases, scammers have hacked into the professor’s email, Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper reports job scams targeting younger adults are also beginning to include AI-type interviews as well, which may seem up-and-coming instead of a red flag. 

In either case, once the student "applies" or goes through the steps to accept the fake job, the scammers can steal their identity or bank information. 

Watch for: 

  • Emails with job offers from a professor or your school. If you get one, reach out directly via a new email or phone call and confirm they’re really hiring for that position.
  • Texts or emails that ask you to download an app to conduct a job interview, such as WhatsApp or Signal.
  • Texts or emails that ask you to download a job application.
  • Requests to conduct interviews only by text, email or online chat.
  • Getting offered a job without ever speaking to someone in person.

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Fake check job scams

A common way scammers get money from those looking for a job is with a job offer that includes sending you a check. 

The "job applicant" may need the money for any reason, such as to buy a training package, new office supplies or other equipment necessary to begin work.

But the check is fake and the whole thing is a scam.

Watch for: 

  • An employer that asks for your credit card or banking information to pay for training or equipment. Your boss should be paying you, not the other way around.
  • An employer that offers to mail you a check to deposit at your bank, telling you to use the money for something necessary to begin your job. The check will eventually bounce and the bank will want you to repay the money you withdrew.

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Work-from-home job scams

Scammers are banking on the fact that many workers are looking for remote jobs in this economy. 

Similar to the checking scams, these ploys often involve credit card charges and fake checks. Or they can get you involved in jobs that are illegal altogether.

Watch for: 

  • An employer asking you to pay for starter kits, or buy other equipment or training.
  • An employer that offers to mail you a check.
  • Reshipping or "quality control manager" jobs. Your "job" may be to receive packages at home and re-send them. The FTC says these are often high-priced goods that have been bought using stolen credit cards.
  • Reselling merchandise jobs. The employer says you can make money buying brand-name luxury products for less than retail prices from them, and resell those products for a profit.

How to see if job offer is a scam

Before you accept a job offer, take these steps to avoid common job scams:

  • Search online. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words "scam," "review," or "complaint." See if others say they’ve been scammed by that company or person.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think? This also helps give you vital time to think about the offer.
  • Get the job offer in writing. Ask the employer to send you details of the job duties, the pay, and the hours. If they refuse, that could be a sign of a problem.

If you paid a scammer, immediately contact the company behind the method of payment, whether it be debit or credit card, mobile payment app, wire transfer, gift card, etc. 

Report the fraud and ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. 

If you see a job scam, or lose money to one, report it to the FTC at You can also report it to your state attorney general.

This story was reported from Detroit.