Job emails promising $300 usually too good to be true
Attending college can be very costly with today’s tuition rates, so many students take on part time jobs in or around campus to make supplementary income. Some students may take on an on-campus position offered through federal work study, while other students may prefer to work for the multiple businesses in and around the River Falls area. However, most of these positions pay far less than the one offered in an email sent out to me last month.
A self-proclaimed contracting company called Dumore Construction and Remodeling sent me an email with the title “Make $300 Weekly.” Claiming to provide flexible employment for only four to six hours a week, I knew something was fishy about this email due to fact that almost everyone who was sent this email was named Christopher. However, this wasn’t the only email that promised employment.
Another email claiming to be from the Office of Student Employment (which doesn’t exist at UW-River Falls) was offering a position “for one Mr. Wang Jianzhou,” claiming that I could work from home for a generous amount of pay. Like the other email, it was obviously too good to be true, but knowing that people can fall gullible towards these types of scams, I decided to see how often people can fall for these scams.
It turns out that these emails are just a very small fraction of the emails that were sent through to university emails, according to Division of Technology Services (DoTS) Chief Information Officer Jason Winget.
“These are really crimes of opportunity,” Winget said, “so when the opportunity changes, we will see an increase overtime, or suddenly we’ll have none.”
During the start of the fall semester, criminals tend to take advantage of the influx of new students who are looking for jobs, leading to an increase in bogus emails promoting jobs. Many of these job posting may hint at some legitimacy, such as a well-known company or a well-known figure (e.g. Microsoft and Bill Gates).
In addition to jobs, criminals also may send emails specific to other trends during the school year, such as debt owed towards taxes or student loan debt, or information said to be required for enrollment. All of these emails have one common goal: to steal your money and your information.
Specifically regarding emails about employment, Career Counselor Amy Knutson of Career Services has seen multiple instances of students finding these false job claims.
“If it sounds too good to be true,’’ she said, “it probably is.”
Often these job postings will offer a high paying position for a low amount of hours and will often ask for personal information, such as a social security number, bank account routing number or driver’s license information. Many might ask to pay a fee in order to gain the desired position or to be offered the chance to have access to a position. The consequences of falling for these scams not only include losing money, but can also lead to identity theft and bad credit.
Currently, Career Services and DoTS are working toward eliminating these fake online postings by identifying and filtering them as they come into student email accounts. Recently, to improve upon our anti-spam services, DoTS has changed their outsourcing company to Microsoft to help filter individual emails, as it takes the work of multiple people in order to combat fraudulent emails. In addition to reporting false job postings through email, Career Services also sets a criteria on regulating job postings on the school’s employment website, Hire-A-Falcon, on top of requiring students to read a paragraph regarding scams and how to avoid them.
However, many of these scams like the two that I had received can go under the radar, so here are some tips to avoid becoming a potential victim of email fraud:
- Do not reply to the email, as even doing this can put you at risk for receiving more offers, and can also activate viruses to your computer.
- Check for spelling or grammatical errors, as many of these scams are written very poorly, typically by criminals who may not be very fluent in English or intentionally misspell words to get past filters.
- Look for inconsistencies, such as an email not matching the company’s name. Usually an email from a company would have a professional email address, and not one from a personal email account such as Gmail or Yahoo.
- Check if the position offered for this email is for a legitimate business, either by doing a Google search or by calling the company directly (not with the contact information the scam provided obviously). Even if a posting looks very legitimate, it’s always a safe measure to check whether or not they actually sent the job posting.
- Check if the job requires you to pay a fee or provide private information to apply, as most legitimate job postings do not require any fees to be paid or private information to be received in order to be hired.
- When in doubt, seek help. Talk to Career Services to see if the job is legitimate, as they usually have the expertise to tell if a position is legitimate or not.
- The most important tip with combating these email is fairly simple: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
For more information regarding this topic, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website on Job Scams, and also report fraudulent job offers at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams.