Unfortunately, so do the identity theft predators, and like hungry sharks closing in on ship wreck survivors, they are circling for the kill. They know that there are many vulnerable people, who are desperately looking for a job to pay their bills, and are waiting to pounce.
Many people are looking for jobs on posting boards such as Craigs List, Backpage, and various others, when they find a job posting that offers great pay and benefits. They click the link to apply, and are redirected to a site that looks just like the actual companies site, which asks them to complete an on-line application. The application asks for all kinds of personal information like social security number, previous addresses, employment history, and authorizes the company to check the applicants credit history. Unknowingly, they fill it out, and submit it. Now the predator has everything they need to steal their identity.
A few days later, they look up the companies actual website, and call to check the status of there application. The company advises them at that time that they do not have any jobs posted on any posting boards, and would never ask for such personal information over the internet. Realizing that they have been taken advantage of, they call a computer repair company such as Geeks-In-Route, aksing what to do. "Unfortunately, by then it is too late, and there is nothing we can do. The damage has been done, and it's going to be a bumpy ride trying to un-do the damage." says Austin Whitten, President of Geeks-In-Route.
Mr. Whitten goes on to tell us about his grandfather, who had his identity stolen several years ago, and how the identity thief racked up over $100,000 in a very short amount of time. It took his grandfather years to clean up the mess, and lots of money and grief.
With such dangers lurking on the internet, what can one do? Obviously, they can't stop looking for jobs. "There are many things that one can do to protect themselves" states Mr. Whitten, who went on to give us some examples, which we have listed below.
1. Join a credible service such as LifeLock (http://www.lifelock.com), which notifies you whenever a new credit application is submitted, or a credit report is pulled. These services will actually block the applications from being processed until they can verify that it is actually you who is applying. At $10.00 per month, this is a very inexpensive way to protect your identity even if someone does get ahold of your personal information.
2. Verify that the company you are applying to is actually posting a job opening. You can do this by calling them, and asking. If they are accepting applications, they will advise you on how to apply at that time. Never click an "Apply Now" link from a posting board or email. Just because the link says www.somecompany.com, that does not mean that the link was programmed to go there. If you are going to apply on-line, manually type in their web address, and access the application from within their website.
3. Make sure your computer is adequately protected. There are nearly 30,000 new viruses released into the internet daily. A tool most favored by identity thieves is a Key Logger virus. This tool actuall records the keys you type on your keyboard, and sends the information back to the identity thief. In this case it doesn't matter if you are at the companies legitimate site or not. The key logger is going to record everything you type regardless. http://www.Geeks-
4. If completing an application online, make sure the site is secured. Two things to look for are an "s" at the end of the "http" in the website address, and a security seal on the site. A legitimate site should have both of these items.
Having your identity stolen can be a very dificult and an extremely expensive problem to resolve. As you can see above, it is not hard or expensive to protect yourself from becoming a victim to begin with. It just takes a little bit of diligence on your part.
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