7 On Your Side:Sophisticated Phishing Scam - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

3/26/07

7 On Your Side:Sophisticated Phishing Scam

Toby Getsch is a self-proclaimed technology geek who's on the hunt for his dream job.

"I am really passionate about using technology in whatever job that I do," says Toby.

So he posted his resume on a leading job site hoping that employers would take a megabyte. One day, he received an enticing e-mail from a media company.

Toby says, "I think they might have even been looking for a person to manage a team of writers."  

In order to apply for the job, Toby was asked to register on the company's website. He almost submitted his information, but something stopped him.

Privacy experts say Toby was nearly hooked by a slick phishing scheme.

"The scams are becoming more sophisticated and much more difficult to recognize," says Pam Dixon with the World Privacy Forum.

Dixon warns the offers are now fooling even the most savvy consumers.  "They have websites that are really good looking. It used to be that you could look at the spelling of a job scam and go, 'Hmmm. I don't think that's quite right.'"

But not anymore! In fact, thousands of job seekers have contacted the Better Business Bureau over the past few months about suspicious postings. Some simply ask for your name, home, and e-mail addresses.

Dixon adds, "We've seen some of the scams where they ask for your eye color, they ask for your height."

Seems benign. It's not like you're giving away your bank account or social security numbers.

Fraud expert Susan grant cautions, "Once identity thieves have any piece of your personal information, they can look to see if they can find other pieces elsewhere. They could put it all together and impersonate you."

At the very least you 'll probably be bombarded with junk e-mail.

How can you protect yourself?

Be skeptical if you've never heard of the company and they ask for too much information. If applying requires you to create a password, that's a giant red flag.

"All they have to do is figure out where you do your banking and they can get into your accounts. Because chances are if you're like most people, you're using the same password for everything," says Dixon.

"Look up the employer's phone number and contact it directly," says Susan Grant with the National Consumer's League.

No direct names or numbers...that's what tipped Toby off. He googled the company and found tons of consumer complaints.

He adds, "And I found other people commenting about how they even had some mock interviews."

Careerbuilder, Monster, and Yahoo Hotjobs all include warnings about potential fraud on their sites and monitor job postings daily.

They pulled down postings tied to the company that Toby was contacted by.

"Online job sites are a great way to connect with employers, but you need to be really careful," says Grant.

Toby agrees, but hopes more consumers will realize how easy it is to be fooled.

"I have probably siblings and parents or friends that would easily just say, 'Hey, this looks like a great idea!'," says Toby.

The company that emailed Toby declined an on-camera interview but told us they do not sell or share people's information.

Their own online privacy policy, however, states they may share the information gathered with third parties.

They also tried to dispute their unsatisfactory Better Business Bureau record, but the BBB says it's well warranted.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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