Online Safety Tips

At the start of any school year, scammers target students when they expect them to be seeking jobs. Be aware that these types of scams are targeting UCSC students. Please review this critical information on how to protect yourself and stay cyber safe. 

What to be on the lookout for:

Most scams start with you receiving an email at your UCSC.EDU email address encouraging you to apply for a job. Some of the messages appear to come from private companies, the Career Center (often referred to as the job placement office), student services, or even a specific professor. If you reply to the message, things start to get strange. The "employer" hires you without an interview. Then, they often will send you a check with instructions to purchase gift cards, money orders,prepaid debit cards, or other supplies you’ll need for your new job. However, the check is a fake – a detail your bank will let you know a day or more after you deposit it.  Any money you withdraw from your bank against the fake check and send to your "employer" is gone for good.  Plus, you have to deal with the ramifications of a fake check with your bank.

Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! You will never receive a legitimate job offer via email without first applying and interviewing with the company.

Other scams include:

  • Listing rental housing that is fake
  • Asking for payment because they claim to be from a government agency seeking to arrest you for a warrant or fine you owe 
  • Claiming to be a friend or relative in trouble and needing financial assistance

Never reveal personal information in email correspondence, phone, or text message to anyone you do not know. Do not purchase gift cards and cash or deposit checks from unfamiliar companies or persons you have not met in person. Person(s) perpetuating these scams contact many people and pressure cooperation from unsuspecting individuals.

How to avoid employment scams:

  • Do your research. Before you say yes to any job, research the company that wants to hire you. Does the company have a professional website and legitimate contact information? Search for what others are saying about their experience with this company.
  • Confirm your employment. Call the company back using a phone number listed online and verify you are speaking to the actual employee responsible for hiring. 
  • Beware of red flags. Scammers often send emails with many typos and grammatical errors. They offer to hire you without an interview and even pay you before you’ve done any work. None of these are behaviors of a reputable business.
  • Never send money to strangers. Never send funds in the form of cash, checks, gift cards or wire transfers to someone you don’t know or haven’t met. No legitimate company will ask you to pay them to get a job.
  • Do not provide your banking information. Until you confirm you are working with an actual business, that is actually hiring you, and not someone malicious. 


A few clues the message is a forgery:

  • The email "from" address is a generic email address such as or versus a corporate business email address or a email address. However, keep in mind there are ways to add official looking extensions to email addresses.  
  • The potential employer is asking for personal information such as a street address, date of birth, mobile number, and an alternative email (different from your email address).
  • All of your communication is via email and text. The person makes excuses as why they can’t meet you in person, like they are travelling or out of town.
  • The potential employer directs you to make purchases on their behalf such as supplies and/or gift cards, or blank checks.
  • The grammar and sentence structure are poor.
  • Somehow they managed to send you a check for too much money. They then ask you to send most of the difference back and keep a small amount of the funds for the inconvenience.   


  • If you receive an email containing a message that you did not expect, especially with words like "Internship" or "Work Assistant Needed" or “Employment,” proceed with caution.
  • If the email is unsolicited and offering or requesting money, electronic money transfers (Venmo, paypal, etc), or gift cards of any type for payment, do not engage. 
  • Legitimate employers do not make threats or behave aggressively when you refuse to engage or communicate with them.  Should you be threatened with harm, contact local authorities. 


What to do: 

1) When you receive a phishing email, do not respond to it; instead, train your spam filter by reporting it to Google.  No need to report phishing emails to the ITS Support Center unless you have responded directly to the phish.

To train your spam filter:

  • Open the message in Gmail (in your web browser)
  • Click the three vertical dots ' ⋮ ' next to reply
  • Choose 'Report phishing'

2) If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, immediately notify your local police jurisdiction and cease all contact with the suspect organization. You can also contact the UC Santa Cruz Police Department Dispatch Center to speak with an officer at 831-459-2231. Per the Clery Act and other state and federal laws,  the UCSC Police Department is required  to notify the UCSC community of crimes that happen on our campus.  The department cannot do that without your help in notifying others and sharing awareness.

3) If you have engaged in communication report to ITS:

4) If you have deposited money into your bank account, immediately contact your bank.

5) For emergency financial assistance, contact the Dean of Students Office by either visiting in person, calling (831) 459-4446 or emailing

6) For additional support finding and applying to on-campus and off-campus jobs, visit Career Success at Hahn 125 or email

Learn more about avoiding employment scams: