Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers and uses it for their own personal gain. Identity theft takes many forms. Almost all cases, victims are left with a ruined credit or criminal history and the complicated task of regaining their good names. Identity theft is an evolving crime and criminals are finding new and more sophisticated ways to steal and use information.
One particular scam involves the victim receiving an email from a person posing as a human resource director with well-known companies after responding to a posting on a job board. The email implies interest in the applicant and requests a background check as part of the employment process. The scammer claims the applicant will start work in three weeks and requests that a background check start immediately. The victim provides the required information and spends the next five years cleaning up his/her credit.
The scammers are getting fairly tricky however you will lessen your chances to falling victim by following these tips:
• Do not disclose Social Security numbers. A Social Security number is not necessary for an employer to do a background check or credit check. If a company insists on the number before processing an application, the applicant should research the company independently to verify its legitimacy.
• Never give out financial information. Employers very rarely need a prospective employee’s personal financial information. Applicants should be very cautious of a company requesting bank account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal financial information.
• Check the company’s contact information and Web site. An applicant should verify that a company is legitimate before continuing with the application process. This can be done by checking the address and telephone number the company has provided and making sure the Web site is operating.
• Watch for indications that the advertisement or job offer is bogus. Many online scams contain misspellings and bad grammar. Also, an employer using an e-mail address that is not affiliated with the company’s domain name can be an indication of potential fraud.
• Be cautious of job postings from overseas employers. A legitimate overseas company should have the resources to conduct business in the United States without using a privately held bank account. Overseas companies also have proven to be very hard to investigate and prosecute.