To the graduating class of 2020: I know how scared you are because I was that scared student, too. I graduated when the economy was in a deep decline and the housing market had collapsed. I graduated when industries that once seemed attainable and exciting were either not hiring or ceased to exist. I graduated in a time where all the experts said, this is the worst time to graduate.
One of the biggest hurdles that I, as well as the rest of my graduating class, had to endure was to sift through the fraudulent job opportunities, fake emails, and never-ending phishing scams sent our way. I would have done anything for a job and those looking to make a quick buck off of me knew it. To protect myself, I had to learn quickly the signs indicating it is a fake opportunity. Along with the red flags outlined here, I scoured these emails and picked up on grammatical and logical inconsistencies: font, font size, grammar, formatting, the name of the sender, and writer of the email not matching up, no company information, and more.
Here’s an example:
- The name of the sender and the address do not match
- There is no subject
- Searching the office location based on the website listed results in multiple companies with that exact same address
- The grammar is poor and some of the phrasing (e.g., return to the states 30th of December) is not typical American English
- The only specific duty requires you to take sole responsibility for financial transactions
- The sender uses language that creates a sense of urgency, creating pressure for you to act now
- A reputable employer will not ask for this personal information before you start working for them
- The sender is indicating only the cell phone, name of the bank, and email are required, which is information one can use to steal your identity
- The email address to which you need to send your application does not match the name of the sender, the email address of the sender, or the name of the employer
When reviewing a job posting, stop and ask yourself – does this make sense? Why would an employer require my bank information, but not my name? Why are they pressuring me to act now if I’ve never met them before? Why would I, in this entry-level role, be tasked with taking sole responsibility for bank transactions? If this individual works for a company, why do the email addresses not come from that company?
The hardest part is to look at this with objectivity. When you want to believe something is true, you are more willing to look past all the red flags. But ask yourself: if I was trying to attract applicants to an open position at my company, how would I go about it? Compare that to the email above; did this employer go about attracting applicants the same way? If the answer to the second question is no, that’s a good indication that further assessment is needed and the opportunity might not be legitimate.
If you are sent an email to your UConn email address that you believe to be a phishing scam, please forward it to ITS at email@example.com. If you have given out your personal information and believe you have been the victim of a scam, you need to file a report with your local police department as soon as possible.
The Center for Career Development understands that our students are going through a tumultuous and unprecedented time. Our career coaches are aware of the onslaught of phishing scams and happy and prepared to answer all of your questions. We are currently conducting our career coaching virtually, and you can sign up for an appointment on Handshake.