Are you looking for work that you can do from home, or from your dorm?
It seems like everyone is working from home, or looking for a remote job opportunity. While COVID-19 continues to be a threat across the U.S., remote work opportunities are a great way to stay employed while reducing the spread.
Unfortunately, scammers are out there, and they are eager to take advantage of people looking for remote work. Virtual work environments are becoming more normal, and scammers can use this to their advantage. How? In the past, it was fairly easy to make sure that a job offer was legitimate—you would go to an office for an interview and meet your employer and co-workers. However, with so many workplaces going remote, if you are searching for, or starting, a remote job right now, you may not meet your employer in-person, or to go an office to get on-boarded. So, how do you know that a job is legitimate?
First, if you did not apply for the job, it is probably a scam. Even if the offer comes from the email address of someone you know, you should be cautious. Scammers can spoof email addresses to make it look like your friend, classmate, or even professor is sending you a job offer.
If you are applying for a job, it is always good practice to research an employer first, and in the case of remote work, researching an employer is the best way to avoid scams. Look the employer up online—do they have an office that you can find on Google Maps, or is their address associated with a private residence? If the address leads to a private residence, ask yourself: does this make sense? Do they have a website with contact information and up-to-date information? Can you find their employees on LinkedIn? It may make sense for a small business or startup to be located in a private residence and have few to no employees on LinkedIn, but a business which claims to be large and have a national or international presence should be located in an office building, and have many employees listed on LinkedIn.
Once you’ve researched an employer and decided to apply to a job, pay attention to the communication you receive from the employer.
A scammer will often:
- Offer you a job without interviewing you and/or verifying your qualifications
- Seem rushed and hurried, and will seem frustrated or angry with you for asking questions or trying to verify their legitimacy
- Claim to be out of the country, or to be in the middle of an emergency situation
- Send you a check before you have completed or started the work
- Ask you to cash a check for them and send them back part of the money, or forward part of the money to someone else
- Ask you to purchase gift cards and send them the card information
- Ask you to purchase and mail items
- Ask you to complete a wire transfer of funds (this can include sending money via Venmo, Western Union, etc)
- Ask for your credit card number, banking information, or Social Security Number
You should never have to pay for a job opportunity, or make purchases to be considered for a job. Additionally, while it is normal to provide your Social Security Number to complete a Form I9, an employer should never ask you to email or text this information, or provide it in any other unsecured way.
Trust your instincts. If something feels off about a job or employer, or it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The Student Employment Office is here to help! If you’re wondering if a job is a scam, reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, if you think that you have been the victim of a scam, you should contact the Boston University Police Department at 617-353-3436.