Identity Theft and Your Online Job
While identity theft is
nothing new, the Web has opened up whole new world of opportunity for
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
In a 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
"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 given
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.
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.
The Internet 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
Sharon Davis, Work-At-Home expert, author and
helps people to achieve their goal of working at home, telecommuting or
starting a home business.
List of other articles of interest: