Identity Theft and Your Online Job Search

Identity Theft and Your Online Job Search

Identity Theft and Your Online Job Search: While identity theft is nothing new, the Web has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for identity thieves.

According to the FBI, identity theft is the biggest online scam. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says identity theft is the 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, and bank accounts and write bad checks in your name – leaving the victim with ruined bills and credit notes. Identity thieves can pretend to be representatives of banks, Internet service providers, and even government agencies to get you to disclose your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, financial account numbers, and identity information.

In a recent article, MSNBC reported the case of a man who was the victim of a fraudulent job listing posted on According to the article:

“This was the job lead Jim needed: a marketing manager position at Arthur Gallagher, a leading international insurance broker. And just days after Jim responded to the job posting on, a human resources director was promising. “We’re interested in you,” he wrote in the note. Salary is negotiable, customers are large. In fact, customers are so valuable and sensitive that you’ll need to do a background check as part of the interview process. For the job, Jim complied with it, and his age, height, He sent almost every key to his digital identity, including his weight, Social Security number, bank account numbers, and even his mother’s maiden name.”

Jim has spent the day canceling his credit cards, checking their balances and contacting the credit bureaus, but he worries that his information is now “in the middle.”

There are warning signs that may lead you to fake job postings. While these items don’t necessarily mean that the listing is a scam, they are indications that you should do more checking.

  • Incorrect grammar and spelling errors
  • Phone or fax number area codes do not match the given address
  • Unrealistic salary

Online business databases aren’t the only places identity thieves scavenge for personal information. Recent indictments across the US have accused individuals of obtaining and using personal information in a variety of ways. Two people in Miami were accused of illegally accessing restaurants’ computer networks using a fake company’s identity. A clerical employee at the New York State Insurance Fund stole office files and used stolen identities (as well as people and office workers across the country) to obtain goods and services. A phlebotomist at Kaiser Permanente admitted to using the personal information of patients and employees to open credit card accounts under various names.

Recently, an FTC investigation into a work-at-home plan uncovered an incredible “fraud within a scam” when a man pretending to be an FTC employee emailed hundreds of scam victims. He requested personal information, stating that it would be used as evidence in the case.

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of becoming a victim, you can minimize the risk by putting the following into practice:

If a prospective employer asks you for any personal information, you should ask them for their contact information and then research the company’s information separately 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 employment history and former employers), it’s not okay for them to ask for your personal information (like a social security number) unless you’re actually hired (and you’ve checked to make sure they’re legitimate). Even then, you should never be asked for financial information such as a credit card number.

Never include your social security number on online resumes and keep even your employment history short.

Check your credit card statements frequently. Believe it or not, many people don’t even check them out!

Make sure to follow up with creditors if your bill doesn’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has changed your billing address to cover their tracks.

Order your credit report each year from one of the major credit bureaus and verify that everything is correct.

What to do if you have been a victim of identity theft:

The FTC administers the Consumer Sentry Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, the nation’s repository for identity theft complaints. The FTC has established the Identity Theft Free Hotline, 1.877.IDTHEFT (1.877.438.4338), and the Identity Theft Website to provide identity theft victims a central place to report problems and obtain useful information.

The Internet Fraud Complaints 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.

Also Read: Highlight Your Federal Resume

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