Seasonal Job Scams
There will always be people who look for ways to earn extra cash during the holiday season and that gives cybercriminals an opportunity to exploit this need and push their scams. The objective of the type of scam we’re discussing here is identity theft.
Cyberpunks create fake websites and email domains that mimic established businesses, then push phishing emails and texts or even social media messages in order to hook victims. They’ll ask for all the routine information required when you fill out a job application such as name, address, phone number, driver’s license or passport or other government issued ID. Naturally they collect your information digitally and never request anything in person. This data or your PII (Personal Identifiable Information) represents everything a hacker needs to create a fake identity.
They’ll use your PII to open fraudulent bank accounts, credit cards or they can sell your information on the dark web. These intruders count on our level of comfort sharing this type of information for job applications and on people who are interested in having extra cash for the holidays.
According to the FTC, “Americans were scammed out of $86 million due to fake business and job opportunities in the second quarter of 2022.”
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Use the SLAM method to carefully examine the Sender, Links, Attachments, and Message for signs of counterfeit. Carefully check the domain and compare it to a googled search of that company’s domain. Sometimes the fake is only off by one letter.
- Do NOT respond to unsolicited emails or social media messages containing job offers. Businesses looking to fill job openings will use proper and legitimate channels to staff up for the season and will NEVER solicit individuals via email, text or social media.
- Do your due diligence. Research online for the websites, physical addresses and phone numbers and even LinkedIn pages of potential employers to confirm that job opportunities and the company is real. Sometimes it’s best to call the company to confirm the offer.
Black hats will often make offers that sound too good to be true, appealing to people who might be in desperate situations. If you are ever in doubt, trust your gut feelings and do not share your personal information. You should also report anything suspicious to the authorities.
Stay safe and happy holidays!
1. Jennifer Liu, “22-year-old shares nightmare of getting scammed by a fake job: ‘I went from excited to devastated in a month’” CNBC, September 18, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/18/22-year-old-goes-viral-for-sharing-job-scam-nightmare-and-red-flags.html