Job Scams Proliferate On The Web

By Staff

February 23, 2009

As unemployment increases, vulnerable job seekers are being taken in by hundreds of fake online job postings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that many online ads for employment are actually fake listings intended to sell career services or job training manuals. Other online ads are placed by identity thieves in an effort to gather personal information. In addition, some job postings could be from recruiting agencies simply looking to collect resumes.

The Wall Street Journal notes that when Tom Greene, a sales and marketing executive, agreed to an interview for a vice president position he had applied to through, he found himself listening to a pitch for a career service. The job he had applied for did not exist.

"It's extremely frustrating," Greene said in an interview. "You get very skeptical about the job market."

CBS13 in Sacramento, California, reports a noticeable surge in e-mail scams. Keith Crosley, a director of market development at Proofpoint, an e-mail and data security firm, has noted a 500 percent increase in spam mail in the past few weeks.

The e-mails appear to be business messages, some with corporate logos asking for confirmation of personal information. Many carry attachments designed to search for bank account numbers, passwords, and logins on social networking sites.

Environmentally focused "green" jobs, which are gaining in popularity, appear to be particularly vulnerable to the trend. The Live Green, Live Smart Institute recently publicized a list of over 100 green job sites, and while doing so discovered numerous sites set up to take advantage of job seekers.

"We posted our own resumes on various sites and with various companies," said Peter Lytle, executive director and founder of the institute, in a press release, "only to find out that the posted positions either never existed or had been filled months ago, most of the time we received no response and often we ended up getting put on a spam or pornographic e-mail list."

CBS13 advises job seekers to protect themselves by never giving out social security numbers, birthdays or personal information online, and never making payments to job placement firms. In addition, those responding to ads for employment should research the validity of any potential employer, and check with the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and the Secretary of State.

Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, which specializes in privacy matters, told The Wall Street Journal that job seekers can do even more: Provide a resume with a post office box instead of a home address, list initials in the document instead of a full name, and use a disposable e-mail address to prevent spam from being received at a regular e-mail address.

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