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Soon-to-be college graduates are often targets of scam artists

Q: I’m finishing up my last semester and am ready to find that first post-college job. The problem is that I have no actual job experience whatsoever. I’m graduating soon, and finding a place that will hire me has been difficult due to my lack of work history, and low-level/starting positions in my field are few and far between as it is. As such, I was surprised that someone came to me with a great job offer. I received a message on my student email telling me about a secret shopper job. I am somewhat suspicious, as even though it does come from another person’s college email, I don’t know this guy, and it almost sounds too good to be true. It still could be opportunity knocking at the door, and so I’d like to make certain that the offer isn’t real. Do you know what else I could do to find my first job?

A: While there are many real secret shopper-type jobs, that is most assuredly a scam. An easy way to recognize that a job offer might be a scam is when the offer itself comes to you unsolicited. These days, college students are easy targets for scammers, as many college students such as yourself are eager to find work right out of graduating. Scam artists can hijack a small number of student emails at a college and then proceed to send out phishing emails to other student emails en masse, and often a few of those might be hijacked and the spread continues. When this happens, especially in the situation where it is sent to your student email from a different student email, you should notify your school’s IT department of the matter so that they can take the necessary steps to resolve that issue, as well as warn other students of the threat that these emails pose. You might want to run a virus scan on your computer as a precaution – these emails can contain viruses and malware, as well.

If you run into a situation like this again, I highly recommend you file a report on BBB’s Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.

As for finding your first job right after college, that can be difficult. Especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience. If you can, I’d suggest you first try looking for a temporary internship, usually spanning over a few months. Even though there are more paid internships these days, you might have to settle for an unpaid one. While nobody wants to work for free, it is probably your best bet. After your internship, you can proudly display on your resume that you do indeed have experience, and if you made a good impression where you worked, you might also receive a letter of recommendation from the company you worked for. In some cases, the company might even offer you a paid position at the company after your internship is complete.

Always do a background check on the job offer and the company it came from before responding.

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