The Internet has developed into an entity that pervades all aspects of daily life. While this has many advantages, like constant access to the myriad wonders of YouTube, there are also many darker avenues down which one can travel, sometimes unwittingly.
The imperiled Nigerian prince in desperate need of money and basic grammar lessons has become a veritable comedic goldmine and has raised awareness of Internet scammers. But not all are so humorous or so obvious.
Feverish college students, desperate to gain résumé experience that makes them employable, are particularly vulnerable to job scammers.
Recently, a fraudulent job posting, claiming to be able to give students easy, flexible work for good wages and without contact, was discovered on FirstClass. This is not the first such incident.
The ad directed interested applicants to page131.com, where they were prompted to enter credit card information in order to pay a one time start up fee of $19.95.
Without doing too much research, this could appear to be a legitimate job posting; so, in an age where criminals can easily masquerade as legitimate entities, how can real job opportunities be distinguished from fake ones?
With discernment and a few questions, the good can be sorted from the bad.
With any non-physical job application, start with a basic Internet search. If a company appears under multiple hits from any given search, chances are they’re legitimate. Conversely, if a company is nearly invisible online, chances are they’re fraudulent.
Any job posting that contains incorrect grammar or randomly capitalized words should be an immediate telltale sign of fraudulence. Many scammers generate advertisements with software. Unlike real people, software doesn’t necessarily pick up on colloquial ticks in grammar or capitalization. Professional companies have someone overseeing their hiring. This means their advertisements are reviewed and likely not grammatically idiosyncratic.
Any company that purports to be able to provide work without needing personal information or contact is not legitimate.
For tax purposes, the law requires that employers verify the identity of their employees if they are going to collect a paycheck. Companies that require no personal information or contact should immediately set off red flags. In most states, employers are also required to use an E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of potential hires. This also requires personal information to change hands.
Because very little information is needed for identity theft to occur, never give personal information, including your credit card number, to an employer that is suspicious. The information required in a credit card transaction contains enough data for identity thieves to obtain Social Security numbers.
Startup fees are not something that most companies require. Job training is either paid for by employers or will be gone over in detail after an initial round of inquiry. If an employer does ask for credit card information, asking why they require it is always a good idea. Legitimate need should be explained
unhesitatingly. Equivocation and evasion should raise questions about an employer’s intent. Regardless, it’s better to be safe than become an unwitting victim of identity theft.
Since the Internet lacks corporeal form, it’s much easier for fraud to be perpetrated, but a healthy amount of skepticism and a rationally applied set of questions are the best way to guarantee safety. This is particularly important in terms of job applications, as these frequently require the exchange of personal information. However, as general rules, these can also help ensure online security.
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