Published: June 28, 2022 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Cybercrime opportunists quickly took advantage of a way of working that blew-up during the coronavirus pandemic. Working remotely from home was the answer and for many, still is. But, in no time, cyber-scammers saw the prospect of ripping-off remote job hunters. Trusting job hopefuls not only had their bank accounts cleaned-out and identities stolen, but some landed in legal trouble facing criminal charges.
The cyber-scammers posing as employers and recruiters often say they’re with Amazon and other well-known companies and charities. Many potential hires are drawn-in with the promise of an upfront, big money payment for quick, easy work done from home. In many cases, bogus cashier’s checks are sent to the “new employee” as up-front payment for work, only to be returned by the bank.
All along the way, these scammers are after your PII. They demand IDs like a license, passport, social security, and bank account numbers, and any other PII they can get from you as an upfront, required part of the hiring process. Most scammers use emails and fake applications as the way to steal your identity. Job application fees and purchasing items required for the job are lining the scammers pockets.
According to the FBI, $3,000 is the average reported loss for victims of this scam, including credit score damage. The BBB finds students are common targets. The age group most targeted is 25-34, with women representing 67% of reported scams.
Remote Job Searches: Do’s and Don’ts from the FBI
There’s no single way these criminals work, but the result is the same: they get your money and your identity. The FBI has posted a Public Service Announcement warning job seekers of what to do and not to do when seeking remote employment. And always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Conduct a web search of the hiring company using the company name only. Results that return multiple websites for the same company may indicate fraudulent job listings.
Verify job postings found on networking and third-party websites on the hiring company's own website or through legitimate HR representatives at the hiring company.
Legitimate companies will ask for PII and bank account information for payroll purposes AFTER hiring employees. This information is safer to give in-person. If in-person contact is not possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, but only exchange private information via the telephone, USPS mail, or in person.
And a few “Nevers:” Never share your Social Security number or other PII that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information. Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer. Never provide credit card information to an employer or send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.
Before entering PII online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar. The address should begin with "https://", not "http://".