Between the Great Resignation and the layoffs of the pandemic, there are a lot of people looking for new jobs these days. And that’s presenting a ripe opportunity for scam artists.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), on Monday, issued a warning to Americans about bad actors who use fake job offers to steal money and personal information, a continuation of a heart-of-the-pandemic scam. By gathering that information, the scam artists are able to file fraudulent unemployment claims in their name, which not only costs the government, but also could significantly impact the victim’s tax bill and eligibility for future benefits.
“They promise you a job, but what they want is your money and your personal information,” says the FBI.
The fake postings are often on social media or a spoofed version of the company’s legitimate website. After an interview (frequently done via email), the applicant is asked to provide information, like their address and phone number, so a “formal offer” can be sent. That’s often followed up with a request to provide their Social Security number and sometimes photos of their driver’s license or other forms of ID.
“Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement. “I urge everyone to be leery of suspicious calls, texts, and emails promising benefits that don’t exist.”
Spotting a job offer that’s actually an identity-theft trap isn’t always as easy as it seems. Last year, 15,253 people fell victim to employment schemes, losing $47.2 million in the process, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
In the past three years, employment crime has impacted 46,625 people, resulting in over $152 million in losses, according to IC3. The actual number is likely much higher, as few victims report these crimes to the agency.
Not sure if that new job offer is legit or not? Here are a few things that should set off alarms in your head.
The application process
If you fall prey to any of these scams, there are a few steps you’ll want to take. First, keep a close eye on your financial accounts for fraudulent activity and set up credit monitoring to ensure no one uses your personal information. (Consider a credit freeze, which prevents new credit from being issued without your direct permission.)
Also, report the incident to the website where the job was posted, as well as the company being spoofed. And report the incident to your local FBI field office or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you act quickly enough, you might be able to prevent the scammers from taking advantage of the information they obtained.