Taking back the ID

Scams abound: phony online job postings, student loan forgiveness and much more

Fraudsters want your personally identifiable information. And they’ll steal it by trying to convince you to apply for phony jobs, respond to a fake alert that illegal goods were shipped in your name and have been intercepted, and bogus student loan forgiveness programs. Foil them before they try to punk you.

Gary Johnson was searching for a job. He found a posting online that appeared to be from a well-known organization. The job description matched his background and allowed him to work from home, so he applied for the opening with his personally identifiable information (PII). The job offer was fake, and a fraudster scammed Gary out of hundreds of dollars.

The case is fictional, but it represents an example of the years-old phony online job-posting scheme.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), fraudsters use the names of established employers in their fake online postings. The job openings, of course, offer excellent pay, telework options and money to help fund a home office. After fraudsters receive a job seeker’s PII, they send a check to the victim for, say, $5,000 to deposit in the victim’s bank. The fraudster tells the victim to keep $1,000 as a salary advance and send back $4,000 to supposedly fund costs for a computer and other office equipment. The fraudster usually requires the victim to send the money via a money transfer or gift card.

But guess what? The victim doesn’t get the job, never receives the office equipment, loses their PII and owes their bank a fee for the bounced check. (See “Job hunting? Look out for phony job postings,” FTC, June 23, 2022.)

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