How to Avoid Job Scams

The Career Center at the University of South Carolina reviews every job posting for legitimacy, but on occasion, something made to be deceptive can be difficult to detect until we hear from a student who has had a bad experience. It is important for you to know how to distinguish legitimate job postings from scam attempts, and what to do if you become a victim. If your instincts tell you it’s suspicious, it probably is.

A job may be a scam if:

  • You are asked to provide credit card, bank account, or personal financial information.
  • You are asked to transfer money and retain a portion as payment for your work.
  • The contact appears to be from a reputable company, but the domain in their email address does not match the domain used by the company (such as the contact using @gmail, @yahoo, @hotmail, etc.) • You are contacted indicating “we got your resume from your school career center” and the email does not mention USC or JobMate specifically. The email does not contain a specific job title or JobMate ID to refer back to identify the position, or they are requesting your contact information again through email, after you have submitted your resume through the system.
  • The position requires an initial investment, such as having to purchase equipment in order to earn a wage, or having to pay for necessary training.
  • The company website is not active, does not exist, or re-links you to an unrelated site.
  • A high salary is listed for a job that requires minimal skill or experience.
  • It is difficult to find an address, actual contact information, the company name, etc.
  • The employer contacts you by phone, but there is no way to call them back. The number is not available or disconnected.
  • You are “hired” by someone you never actually meet with face-to-face.
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check in the mail. DO NOT attempt to cash it or deposit it into your account. Contact your local police department immediately.

Many job applications will ask you to provide your Social Security number and date of birth, but this information should not be solicited over the phone or by email. This information is typically a part of a formal job application that candidates complete in writing, often on the day of their first in-person interview.

You can check the legitimacy of a company by using the following resources:
Better Business Bureau:

Chamber of Commerce:


Ripoff Report:

If you feel you are involved in a scam:

  • Immediately contact the local police.
  • Contact the Career Center so the job posting can be removed and other students can be notified.
  • Get in touch with your bank or credit card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately. • If the scam happened online, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission’s Cybercrime Division ( Additional Resource:

Federal Trade Commission’s Job Scam page:

Original handout from Career Center at