Internet scammers have been an issue ever since the World Wide Web came into our lives back in the ’90s and they continue to get more and more creative with their techniques.
Amid what’s been dubbed “the great resignation“—a trend that saw more Americans quit their job in August 2021 than any other month in recorded history—internet scammers are posting thousands of fake job ads to steal personal info.
According to ProPublica, ads for job postings are popping up on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Facebook that promise well-paying jobs. But only if the applicant provides their social security number and a copy of their driver’s license, front and back, to “initiate” the interview process.
“These fraudsters, they’re like a virus. They continue to mutate,” said Haywood Talcove, chief executive of the government division of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a contractor that helps state and federal agencies combat identity theft.
How It Happens
An example of the scam comes from Alexandra Mateus Vásquez, who thought she was applying for a graphic designer job with Steak ‘n Shake in December 2020 via an ad on Indeed. When contacted by who she thought was a company representative (through a Gmail account), Vásquez participated in an email interview questionnaire, which she thought was odd.
However, she continued the process and answered the questions. A few hours later she received an email offering her the position at $30 an hour. The email also asked her to share her address and phone number so they could send her a formal offer.
When that offer letter arrived, it asked for her social security number. Vásquez provided that info before she was invited to a background check via online chat with who she thought was a hiring manager.
Vásquez provided copies of her personal records and documents to verify her identity, including her state ID and green card. They also asked for a credit card number, which caused her to hesitate. That’s when she got a call from Id.me, an identity verification vendor that multiple states use to guard their unemployment insurance programs.
As it turns out, the scammer was using Vásquez’s personal info to file a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim in her name. This, says fraud experts, is the new twist to the scam.
What To Look For
These fraudulent job postings are appearing on sites all over the internet–no matter how big or small. One common posting is for an airport shuttle driver, offering $2,000 per week for a 35 hour work week.
Job seekers should also be aware that fraudsters are recreating company hiring websites that are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing. The only difference is that the phony site will ask applicants to upload copies of their social security card and driver’s license along with their resume.
According to Blake Hall, chief executive of ID.me, the company is doing its best to inform users when their identities are being used to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. But ultimately, it’s up to users to look for the scam.
“We will do as much as we can to make it clear that they’ve been scammed,” he said, “but ultimately protecting somebody from themself is a really tall order.”