Been offered a Job? Beware of Identity Theft

As the rate of unemployment rises in the U.S., so does the number of job search scams which stealing the identity of innocent job seekers.

The number of job search scams has increased against the people who are desperately seeking a source of income, exposing them to the risk of identity theft.

Lyn Chitow Oaks, the Chief Marketing Officer – TrustedID, the agency that provides Identity theft protection to businesses, individuals and families, has announced that the number of scams has burgeoned over the last 6 to 9 months due to the fall in the employment rate in the country.

The unscrupulous identity thief always targets the vulnerable job seekers as they are soft targets who would reveal personal information considering it a part of the recruitment process.

Oaks warns that there are two kinds of job search scams. The first method used by the identity thieves is sending e-mails to potential victims offering them opportunities to make money and job possibilities. These phishing scams direct the email recipients to a website where these perpetrators ask for personal information by coercion which is in the form of a job application, alerted Oaks.

She said; these fake applications may not only ask the usual information such as the name, address, telephone number but also information which might be risk to give so early in the process such as the Social Security Number and bank account information and also seek permission to conduct a background check.

She said that they will make you feel secure by reasoning that this information will allow them to deposit your cheques directly into your bank account and sometimes go to the extent of informing you that they will send some money into your account and revert it so that they can make sure that the process works smoothly.

Oaks warned not to give out bank information because so as to allow this process to happen you will allow the bank to treat these people as your employers this will allow them anytime access to your bank account which will then be exposed to the risk of being wiped off. Another point to be noted is that you will never receive any information about the job through these emails.

These unscrupulous scammers buy a data base of email addresses from legal businesses that innocently do business with them encouraging the black market on the Internet.

The second scamming method employed by the scammers is the posing as legitimate websites for job search. The harmless looking job posting can lead to an interview where the complete personal information of the applicant is requested.

Oaks further said that the job sites on the Internet are difficult to identify as their offers lie camouflaged among the legitimate jobs.

You can protect yourself

Oaks offered some good and simple advice: be mindful of the information you are revealing and at what stage of recruitment? Here are 6 tips to safeguard yourself:

  1. Never reveal your bank details immediately: This is because employers that are legitimate do not ask for your banking details until you become their employee. Oaks warned that if you are asked for this information consider as a mark of a scam.
  2. Do not reveal your social security number: In a legitimate offer you will be asked for your social security number only after you have been interviewed and are being seriously considered for the job, the Social Security Number is asked to conduct a background check and for tax purposes, informed Oaks. The identity stealers will find some way or the other to ask for your Social Security number. Beware!
  3. Do not agree to a Background check immediately: The background check is generally conducted when you are being considered for a particular position unless it is a government agency you are being interviewed for, said Oaks. These prospective fake employees will do a complete background check on you and find out all sorts of personal information about you.
  4. Check on your employers: If you have your doubts regarding your potential employer even though you have found them on a well known website, Oaks advices to find out where is the company situated, search them on the Better Business Bureau of your state and after you have located them find out if they are licensed.
  5. Edit your resume to the absolute essentials: Most people want to be as available as possible therefore they mention their mail addresses, telephone numbers and other information on their resumes, it is understandable as many employers select their candidates on the bases of area and zip codes. But during the initial stages of your contact with the employers it is okay to mention only the email address, if the employers are interested they will contact you.
  6. Do not opt in: Opt out of receiving information from a third party if you are signing in for an email newsletter or a legitimate business offer. This ensures that no spam hits your mailbox thereby preventing your personal information reaching the black market.

Oaks alerted that there do not seem any signs of abatement of these scams but it is expected that the identity thieves may offer bargain shopping and try to gain access to people’s personal information.

There will be a slight shift of focus from job seekers to bargain shoppers for a while but the job seekers will always remain the favoured target as they are willing to share the information due to survival pressures which these ruthless people will exploit.

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