Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Job Search Scams Threaten Your Identity and Your Wallet

One thing you can be certain of with identity thieves and credit card fraudsters, they don’t discriminate with victims. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, you have to beware of scams that could lead to credit card fraud or identity theft.

Posting your resume online or even just responding to job ads makes you a target for job search scams. There are a few of them to watch out for.

Examples of Job Search Scams

In one scam, the “employer” expresses interest in hiring you and asks for personal information so they can conduct a background check before proceeding. The scammer could then use your information to commit identity theft, perhaps open credit cards or take out loans in your name. In 2009, reported such a scam where the perpetrator was able to open 44 credit cards and racked up $300,000 in fraudulent charges.

Some scammers aren’t out for your personal information, but they don’t necessarily have a job available either. Another type of scam is related to ordering a credit report. Again, the “employer” expresses interest and requests you to order a credit report as part of the screening process. They give you a link where you can get a free copy. The link may even lead to a legitimate website. However, these scammers typically just want to earn a commission by having you order a credit report using their link.

Beware, if you enter your credit card number to order a free credit report, know that there are some strings attached. These offers usually subscribe you to a trial credit monitoring service that you must cancel to keep your credit card from being charged.

Other job search scams may ask you to pay money upfront to receive some materials or training related to the job. Legitimate employers will send you what you need to complete your job and pay you for completing the job. They won’t ask you to pay money upfront.

Another job scam is related to cashing checks. Once you're hired, the "employer" asks you to cash checks, keep a fee for yourself, and wire the remaining amount to someone else. Unfortunately, the checks are ultimately invalid and the bank will come after you for the full amount, even if you’ve already wired to your so-called employer. The check cashing scam has been around for years with various plots, but always the same outcome: you will owe the money you wired.

Keeping Your Identity Safe

Scammers can be extremely convincing, with company logos and letterheads, but there are some ways to see if you're dealing with a real job offer or just a scam.

For starters, don’t give out your personal information until you’ve vetted the company and the person contacting you. Do an internet search on the business to make sure it actually exists. You can go a step further and contact that company’s directory assistance or human resources to confirm that the person who contacted you about the job actually works at the company and is hiring for that position. Realize that most legitimate businesses don't ask for your personal information until after you've completed at least one in-person interview.

In email communications, pay attention to the sender's email address. Real employers will typically have an email address with the same domain as the company they work for, not a gmail, yahoo, or aol email address.

If you’ve already given out your social security number, you can add a fraud alert to your credit report to warn businesses that they should take extra steps to confirm your identity. Another option is a security freeze which locks your credit report and prevents anyone from accessing it until you’ve unlocked it. Contact the credit bureaus for these security actions.

Contact your credit card issuer or bank if believe your credit card or bank information has been compromised. The earlier you let them know the easier it will be to block fraudulent charges. Work with your credit card issuer to eliminate fraud that’s already happened and with your bank if the scammer has accessed your bank account.

Don't be overly anxious about the job. Keep your excitement under control and let your good sense help you decide whether a job is real or if it's just a scam.
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Friday, 31 March 2023

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