Theft and Your Online Job Search
While identity theft is nothing new, the Web has opened
up whole new world of opportunity for identity thieves.
According the FBI, identity theft is the top online
fraud. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says that identity
theft is it's number one source of consumer complaints
- 42 percent of all complaints, in 2001.
The thief will use your personal information to open
credit card accounts, cell phone accounts, open bank
accounts in your name and write bad checks-leaving the
victim with the bills and ruined credit ratings. Identity
thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet
service providers and even government agencies to get
you to reveal your Social Security number, mother's
maiden name, financial account numbers and identifying
recent article, MSNBC reported the case of a man
who fell victim to a fraudulent job listing that was
posted at Monster.com. According to the article:
"It was just the job lead Jim needed: a marketing
manager position with Arthur Gallagher, a leading international
insurance broker. And only days after Jim responded
to the job posting on Monster.com, a human resources
director sent along a promising e-mail. We're interested
in you, the note said. The salary is negotiable, the
clients big. In fact, the clients are so valuable and
sensitive that you'll have to submit to a background
check as part of the interview process. Eager for work,
Jim complied- and sent off just about every key to his
digital identity, including his age, height, weight,
Social Security number, bank account numbers, even his
mother's maiden name."
Jim spent the day canceling his credit cards, checking
his balances and contacting the credit bureaus, but
he's concerned that his information is now "out there".
There are warning signs that can tip you off to fraudulent
job listings. While these items don't necessarily mean
that the listing is a scam, they are indications that
you should do further checking.
- Incorrect grammar and spelling errors
- Phone or fax number area codes don't match the address
- Unrealistic salary
Online job databases are not the only places that identity
thieves cruise for personal information. In recent indictments
across the U.S., individuals have been charged with
obtaining and using personal information through various
ways. In Miami, two individuals were indicted for illegally
tapping the computer networks of restaurants using the
cover of a dummy corporation. A clerical worker at the
New York State Insurance Fund pilfered office files
and used stolen identities (of people across the country
as well as fellow office workers) to obtain goods and
services. A phlebotomist at Kaiser Permanente admitted
to using the personal information of patients and employees
in order to open credit card accounts in various names.
Recently, an FTC investigation into a work-at-home
scheme spawned an incredible "scam-within-a-scam" when
a man pretending to be an FTC employee emailed hundreds
of the scam's victims. He requested personal information
stating that it was to be used as evidence in the case.
While it's impossible to completely eliminate the chances
of becoming a victim, you can minimize the risk by putting
the following to practice:
- If a would-be employer asks you for any personal
information you should ask them for their contact
information and then separately look up the company's
information and contact them to verify that they actually
exist. While it's not unusual for an employer to ask
for certain work-related information (like your work
history and former employers), it is not appropriate
for them to ask for personal information (like a social
security number) unless you are actually being hired
(and you've checked them out to make sure they're
legitimate). Even then, you should never be asked
for financial information such as a credit card number.
- On online resumes, never include your social security
number and keep even your work history brief.
- Check your credit card statements often. Believe
it or not, many people never even check them!
- Be sure to follow up with creditors if your bill
doesn't arrive on time. A missing credit card bill
may mean that an identity thief has changed your billing
address to cover their tracks.
- Order your credit report from one of the major credit
bureaus each year and verify that everything is correct.
What to do if you've been a victim of identity theft:
The FTC maintains Consumer Sentinels Identity Theft
Data Clearinghouse, the nations repository for identity
theft complaints. The FTC established the Identity Theft
Toll-Free Hotline, 1.877.IDTHEFT (1.877.438.4338) and
the ID Theft Website (www.consumer.gov/idtheft)
to give identity theft victims a central place to report
their problems and receive helpful information.
Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National
White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). You can use their
online system to file a complaint.
Sharon Davis, Work-At-Home expert, author and consultant,
helps people to achieve their goal of working at home,
telecommuting or starting a home business.
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