Protect Yourself from Job Search Scams

Common job scams

Career and Student Employment Services and the Zhang Career Center research each new employer requesting an account in Handshake in an effort to ensure that they are legitimate. Each job posted by employers is reviewed by our staff.  As a job seeker you should also research seemingly suspicious companies. Following are examples of common scams and suggestions on how to protect yourself. Review WMU security page.

Assembly or Craft Work

Applicant is asked to pay for equipment or materials to produce goods. Applicant’s work is then determined to be not “up to standard” and is not paid for goods produced.

Check Cashing

Applicant is sent a check, asked to cash it and wire funds to a scam company. When the applicant’s bank discovers the check is fake, the amount is subtracted from applicant’s account.

Envelope Stuffing

Applicant pays a fee and is asked to post the same ad he/she applied for. Applicant is paid based on the number of responses to the ad.

Medical Billing

Applicant is asked for upfront investment. As it is very difficult to compete in the medical billing industry, the applicant generally cannot make back his/her initial investment.

Online Searches

Applicant is asked to pay a small fee to get started. Scam companies steal the credit or debit card information.


Applicant is directed to a false website asking for personal or sensitive information. Scam companies steal the identity information. 

Rebate Processing

Applicant pays upfront for training, certification or registration, and there are no rebates for the applicant to process.


Packages are shipped to the applicant’s residence with instructions to reship the packages to another address. Packages contain stolen property, which the police track back to the applicant’s address.

Work at Home List

Applicant is fooled into purchasing a worthless list.

Ways you can protect yourself from job scams

  • Review WMU website on the signs of phishing emails. Send any emails you believe to be fraudulent as attachments on a new email sent to
  • Be on the lookout for employer emails with grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Avoid job listings that use these descriptions: “package forwarding,” “reshipping,” “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” and “foreign agent agreements.”
  • Don’t be fooled by official-sounding corporate names or logos/trademarks. Some scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms, or forge or slightly alter genuine logos/trademarks to purposely mislead.
  • Check out the company’s domain address. Many use slightly misspelled ones to mimic those belonging to real companies.
  • Do a web search to see if you can find information about complaints against the prospective employer. Sometimes people post their experiences, or sometimes you can even find court case information if the company/individual has been sued.
  • Check out if the company is licensed and/or a legitimate business entity through state websites, such as Contact the local Better Business Bureau or the state’s Attorney General’s Office if you wish to find out if complaints have been filed against the potential employer.
  • Be skeptical if the salary and benefits offered seem too good to be true.
  • Never forward or transfer money from any of your personal accounts on behalf of your employer. Also, be suspicious if you are asked to wire” money to an employer. If a legitimate job requires you to make money transfers, the money should be withdrawn from the employer’s business account, not yours.
  • Do not give out your personal financial information. A potential legitimate employer will not request your bank account, credit card or Paypal account number. Only provide your banking information if you are hired by a legitimate employer and you choose to have your paycheck direct deposited.
  • NEVER fax or email copies of your ID or Social Security number to unverified sources or individuals, or in response to a phone call or email. Credit checks and fake IDs can be obtained and created with this information, and your identity could easily be stolen. Only give these documents to your employer when you have been hired and are physically at the place of employment.

What to do if you are scammed or are a victim of fraud

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.goc/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center ( File a complaint with the State Attorney General Office and/or Better Business Bureau.
  • File a police report if you are scammed or the victim of fraud.
  • Check your credit reports and regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements to see if unauthorized charges have been posted. Immediately contact the bank or credit card company if you see any such unauthorized charges.
  • Report your suspicions or results to Career and Student Employment Services, (269) 387- 2745,  or the Zhang Career Center (269) 387-2711,