SAN ANTONIO -- It's the first day of summer. Soon, many students will start their summer job or internship, important for resumes and GPA's.
Not coincidentally, scammers also prey on students, offering bogus opportunities that could cost them thousands.
After months of searching, Trinity University student, Kyle Argueta, landed a summer internship with The Whittington Group in San Antonio. From beginning to end, the two communicated constantly via e-mail and over the phone.
"Making sure I was there for an interview, making sure my application went well," Argueta said. "They wanted to hear my story and read through my resume."
As employers look to build their workforce, many know that scammers also target eager students. They sneak their bogus offers in among the legitimate businesses online.
"We had one student who got a check of $4,000 sent to her and that seemed amazing, so she deposited it right away. They asked her to take a picture of the check and send it to them, so she did and it had all of her personal information on there," said Danielle Gawronski, Director of Career Services at the Southern Careers Institute.
The check was bogus, and the student made herself vulnerable to ID theft.
How can you verify that a summer internship or job offer is legit?
"Think of yourself as an employer," said Regional Director of the Better Business Bureau Miguel Segura. "You wouldn't hire anyone right off the bat without any experience, without seeing them in person or without having that face-to-face interview."
If you spot a job online, call the business to confirm the job opening. Do your research, too. Find out if the business has a local office.
"Even if you get a call, go to their website and do some fact checking," Gawronski said. "Do some digging because a lot of times they'll use websites that will sound similar but aren't, and if you actually type the name, it doesn't bring it up."
The BBB also recommends looking for an "s" in the URL of a company's website: "https." The "s" means the website is secure. You can also check out BBB's Scam Tracker on their website for any scams in the air.
"Some folks post outdated jobs. So what they'll do is copy and paste a current job listing, wait for that position to be filled, then create a fake website," Segura said.
Any fees, checks for deposit, or financial guarantees up front should also trigger a red flag.
Most if not all colleges and universities have a career center with resources for students seeking a summer internship or a job. Alamo Colleges, for example, has personnel that will directly link students to internships, filtering out any scams.
"Especially at a college level when you're stressing about other things and you're really hoping this internship would be your big break, and then you find out that you've hit a wall or that you gave your information to the wrong hands, that's just disappointing to hear," said Argueta.
Statewide, fake summer job offers led to more than $20,000 in ID theft in the last 12 months, and $1.1 million nationwide. Those numbers only represent the losses reported to the BBB.
"There are very good, reputable organizations on these classified ad sites," Segura said. "Our job as job seekers is to be able to filter out those scammers from the real jobs."
If you come across a scam, go to the Federal Trade Commission website, www.ftc.gov, or visit the BBB's website at bbb.org to report it. For more information on the summer job scams, click here.
If you're looking for a job, aside from visiting your respective career services center at your place of education, a great resource is the official website of Workforce Solutions Alamo.
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