Home News Stories 2006 July A Cautionary Tale - Online Job Scams
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A Cautionary Tale - Online Job Scams

A Cautionary Tale
Get Hired. Not Scammed.


Open laptop sitting on briefcaseIn the market for a new job? The Internet has made it easier than ever to find one. It’s also made it easier for criminals to find you.

Think about it: what do you do when you apply for a job? You give out all kinds of personal information: your name, address, home and work telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, sometimes even your date of birth and social security number. Just what you’d want to know if you’re an identity thief or other criminal.

It’s no wonder we’re investigating all kinds of cases involving online job scams. Here are a few examples we’ve seen of what can happen to you:

  • You respond to an online job ad. You’re contacted via e-mail for a fake interview. Then, you’re asked for bank account information in order to “direct deposit” your paychecks. Guess what? It’s all a ruse…and the crooks drain your account.
  • You get an e-mail from a recruiter or company that’s hiring wanting to know all your personal details for a pre-employment background check. Same drill—that information is used to steal your identity.
  • You post your résumé online with your social security number and other personal information. Criminals find it and use the information to get fake credit cards and loans…in your name.
  • You respond to an online job ad for a “correspondence manager” or “import/export specialist.” You’re hired…and asked to ship products for your employer overseas. Turns out, it’s a reshipping scam. The items you shipped were purchased online using stolen credit cards…and you’ve shipped them illegally to thieves in Nigeria and other countries.

What can you do to avoid being scammed? We recommend you practice safe surfing by taking the following steps:

  • THINK TWICE about telling all on your online résumé. Do you really need to provide detailed personal information? Consider posting your résumé more anonymously…with an e-mail address as your primary contact point.
  • NEVER provide a potential employer with your bank account or credit card information, a scan of your driver’s license or other ID, or a detailed physical description of yourself. That’s just asking for trouble.
  • NEVER pay upfront for any job opportunity (they’re supposed to be paying you!) and never forward, transfer, or wire money to a prospective employer.
  • BE WARY of job listings with misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and terms such as “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “package-forwarding,” and “import/export specialist.” Those are big clues that something is amiss.
And what if—heaven forbid—you do fall for one of these cons? Do damage control immediately: first, close all bank and e-mail accounts linked to the fraud. Then, contact the three major credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit files and to regularly monitor your credit reports for unusual activity. Then, help us clean up the ‘net by reporting the fraud to the job site where the scam was posted and by filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

For more anti-fraud advice, see our Common Frauds webpage and the LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com website.