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Many college students choose to take on part-time jobs to help offset the cost of tuition and everyday living expenses. While anxious to make money as fast and as easily as possible, students should be cautious and learn to identify a fake job offer before accepting it. Remember, if a student employment offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some job postings require you to pay for training before you start the job. This is one of the most common signs that a job opportunity is a scam. Most companies train their employees after they are hired. Likewise, you should never accept advanced or pre-payments from employers. If you receive a check as an advanced payment, do not deposit it. Most fake check scams involve sending a check in an amount more than what was agreed upon and the recipient is asked to send back the overpayment. Problem is, the check bounces and you are left with no recourse to get your money back.

Other job opportunity scams can be more convincing. Scammers may email your university-provided email account, rather than your personal email account, to make their offer look as if its legitimate. If you get an unsolicited email from a possible employer that asks for any personal information, you should never respond. Just because someone has access to your school email account does not automatically mean that they are a legitimate entity.

You should be careful before sending any personal information to a possible employer over email. Some scammers may claim that they need your social security number to run a background or credit check or your bank account numbers to set up direct deposit. Don’t provide this information via email. Employers generally have forms that require this information, but only after you are hired. And even then, personal information is kept secure and only used by authorized personnel.

If you’re worried about job hunting, see if your school has any tips or suggestions for avoiding job scams on their student employment website. Boston University, for example, has an updated page that alerts students of various employment scams that have been reported, warning them not to come into contact or make payments with the reported employers.

If you do come across a fraudulent job listing, you should report it to your school, your local police department, and the FTC. Balancing studying, homework and a part-time job is difficult enough. Don’t make it tougher for yourself by getting mixed up in a malicious scam.

For more tips on job scams, check out our blog on work-at-home scams: https://blog.mass.gov/consumer/massconsumer/work-at-home-scams/

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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