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Beware of these 10 Job Hunting Scams

Just because a job recruiter says he’s from (fill in blank—any huge corporation) doesn’t mean the job can’t be a scam. Anyone could say they’re from Microsoft or Google. Impersonating a representative from a big-name company is one way to fool gullible job seekers.

9DAnother way is to advertise the scam jobs on radio because the scammer knows that listeners will think, “It has to be legit if it’s on the radio.” Scammers will post their job ads anywhere.

An article on consumer.ftc.gov lists the following signs of a fraudulent job advertisement:

  • There are plenty of totally legitimate jobs that involve money out of your pocket. And in some cases, this may be described as an application fee, reference check fee, background check, cost of training materials or anything else. Only pay when the site itself has been vetted by you and everyone else. Do your research!
  • The ad talks of “previously undisclosed” federal government positions. The scammer is banking that you have no idea that usajobs.gov lists all federal job openings to the public.
  • They want your bank account or credit card information. Be very aware.

Similarly, scammers may prey on people seeking a job placement service. The consumer.ftc.gov names the following red flags:

  1. Fictitious jobs are promoted.
  2. Payment is made but no job materializes—and the service suddenly falls off the radar.
  3. If the ad mentions a company, contact that company to verify they’re contracted with the job placement service before you make your next move.
  4. Never make major decisions without first getting everything in writing: cost, what it gets you, etc.
  5. Ask them what happens if they can’t place you in a compatible position. Then listen good. If the response doesn’t make sense or is vague, move on. If they assure you you’ll get a refund within a certain period of time, make sure this is in writing.
  6. But if you decide to go with them, read your contract word for word. If they show impatience with this, it’s a red flag.
  7. Beware of ads that sound like job openings, but actually are just worded to sound that way. These semi-scammers want you to pay them to give you information you can easily find online. A classic example is an ad for writing jobs. It’s worded to sound like the ad placer can connect you with clients—whom they are working for—who need a writer. Instead you’ll be paying for a list of freelance markets, such as some boating magazine seeking submissions—when you specialize in a completely unrelated niche.
  8. Make sure you know precisely what you’re getting into. Are you seeking help with job placement or looking for someone to construct your resume?
  9. See what the BBB says about the company and what a Google search pulls up.
  10. Just because you have to pay doesn’t mean it’s a scam. However…ask yourself why you need to pay someone thousands of dollars to find you a job, what with all the online (and legitimate) job postings and the ability to blast out hundreds of e-mail queries in just a few days with your resume attached?

By keeping your scam radar on high during a job search, job seekers can prevent their personal information and financial data pout of the hands of criminals.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Beware of the Green Dot scam

Scammers are at it again, this time with green dot cards: a pre-paid debit card available at stores. It can work like this:

9DLet’s say you run a small business. You’re out and about, then return to find an employee informing you that the electric company called about an unpaid bill. So you return the call. The person on the other end says you need to pay that electric bill of (fill in the blank) dollars. The stranger on the other end says you can get a green dot card from, say, Walmart, and that you can give that person the number within the next 20 minutes.

Otherwise, the electricity in your business will be shut off. Your business depends on electricity; you have customers; you don’t have time to really think about what just happened over the phone; so you hurry out to Walmart and get that green dot card, call the stranger back and give him the number.

You just got scammed!

There are more and more cases mounting like this, with the scammers tricking victims with an assortment of tall tales, convincing them to obtain the green dot cards. This scam is difficult to trace back to the thief.

Take time to reflect upon a situation before rushing out to do something that involves your money. No legitimate business like a utility company will ever request that you go out and get a prepaid card and then give them the card’s number, especially within the constraints of a very short time period. If it smells fishy, it IS fishy.

The scammers use stories to charge up the victim’s emotions, because they know that people don’t think logically when under the duress of emotions (e.g., fear of electricity shutting down in their shop).

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Scammers Use Online Calendars to Phish Victims

You’ve been here before: You’re at work, you get a notification via a popup, then an email, then a text reminding you of an appointment on your calendar. For most busy professionals, this is pretty normal because you know you need multiple points of contact to remind you of your schedule so you don’t look like a fool and miss an appointment. Online calendars rock, and they beat the heck out of paper calendars.

But this particular appointment that just popped is unfamiliar, you don’t recall making it, and you wonder if maybe it’s a mistake or you had too many Scotches last night. It shows up in your calendar like this:

When: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11am – 12pm Eastern Time

Calendar For Robert Siciliano

Dear Robert,

Writing with humanitarian heart, my name is Mrs. Rita Kennedy, and I was married to Mr. Kennedy director of MWB Industries Cote d’Ivoire. We were married for years with only one child, who was 11 years old, our only daughter Grace. My husband died after a Cardiac Arteries Operation and left both me and little Grace.

Recently when I went for medical examination my doctor told me that I might not last for the next Eight months due to my cancer at this advanced stage (cancer of the liver and partial stroke). Before my husband died last year, there is this sum of ($6.4 Million US Dollars) that my late husband deposited with a Bank here In Ivory Coast. Presently this fund is still in the Vault of the Bank.

Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to any good God fearing brother or sister that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. Going by my health unstable state, I am only worried about little daughter Grace and what will her life be if I die, this is why I am looking for any God fearing whom I will entrust both Grace and the money and secure her future. I prayed for one who will use this money according to the desire of my late husband to make sure that Grace is given the best and is being looked after the way we would have done for her if we were alive.

I want you to always remember me in your daily prayers because of my up coming surgery, and please after reading this letter, indicate on what you could do to help.

Hoping to read from you ASAP
Mrs. Rita Kennedy

SOOOOOOOOOOO…. Now while this particular calendar appointment is an obvious Nigerian 419 scam, not all are this obvious. So beware.

The goal here is for the victim to respond, engage with and ultimately pull money out of one’s pocket in an “advanced fee” scam. But really, all you need to do is ignore and delete.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Beware of Slimy Alarm Sales Calls

Call them con men, grifters, scammers or thieves. Or simply call them liars, because lying is what they do best. They stare you in the eyes, do it via email or over the phone, and lie through their teeth. They do it casually and with such conviction that we have no reason not to believe them.

Sometimes they call you or knock on your door trying to scam you. Whatever you tell them can be used against you. They can steal your identity. If they find out you don’t have an alarm, they may break into your house. If you tell them the company your home alarm is with, they may call you at a later date posing as that alarm company and requesting “updated credit card numbers.” They can also sell you a bogus alarm system.

The Detroit Free Press reports that scammers “come door-to-door selling free alarm systems or systems for $99. Then, they lock you into a long-term contract for three to five years. The equipment is inferior. I’ve known people that have been burglarized with this equipment, and the burglars just yank the alarm off the wall and it doesn’t work.”

This issue is best resolved by not answering any questions at all, hanging up, deleting the email or telling the person at the front door (while you speak through the locked door) you are not interested. No matter what, never give the scammer your Social Security or credit card number or reveal whether you have an alarm.

Only purchase alarm systems from reputable installers, and do your research to make sure the company has been properly reviewed and vetted for a quality product.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Just One of Many Internet Scams

A good friend of mine called me recently to ask what I knew about scams from online sales. He had placed an ad on CraigsList for something he was trying to sell and had asked for $150 for the item. He had received a call from a woman and she offered to send him a check for the item.

Shortly thereafter, he received a $2,400 check from a major chemical company and was confused about why the check was so much more than the amount he listed and why it was coming from a chemical company.

If you ever run into this, rip up the check. This is advanced fee fraud, or a shipping scam. I explained to him that he would undoubtedly be receiving an email requesting that the difference be paid to shipper via a wire transfer.

But why send a check for $2,400, and why from a chemical company? It was probably the only seemingly legitimate check the scammer on hand from a “business.” If you fall for this scam, you end up sending $2,250 back to the scammer and you never get paid on the $2,400 check.

The day after we spoke, he received this email:

“Hello XXXX,

The check has been delivered, thanks for your honesty towards this transaction so far. Well, the overpayment is meant to cover the cost of shipment for the item alongside my other properties including tax and insurance plus the movers and agents fees.

Please deposit the cheque today so that it clears tomorrow after the check has cleared, All you have to do is go the bank and have the rest of the money withdrawn in cash and have it sent to the movers via wire transfer.

Do let me know your schedule for the week regarding pickup as i have some other properties to be moved alongside the item. Please do act accordingly as agreed after deducting your money for the item, make the rest fund available to the movers via money gram Money Transfer at any of their outlet around you or check on moneygram.com and check for their outlets around and get back to me with the transfer details below (as it appears on the receipt) so i can contact the movers for the pick-up at your location ….Deduct the money gram money transfer charges from my fund also $50 for yourself (meant for any hassle or run around).

1) Sender’s name and address

2) Reference number {which is the 8 digits number on the Money Gram receipt}

3) Actual amount sent after the fee had been deducted

Hope i can trust you with the overpayments? Your Honesty and transparency will be appreciated”

 

The vast differences in the sale amount of the item versus the amount of the check are a huge red flag. Another thing to pay attention to is the email itself. It’s full of bad grammar and has some inconsistencies in wording that should be a warning sign to you.

This scam works on a small percentage of people who are naïve and by their nature are overly trusting of others. Help put a stop to this kind of fraud by learning about these scams and making an effort to educate others on the risks and pitfalls of phone, email, snail mail and web based scams.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was StolenDisclosures.

Why Elderly Are Targeted By Scammers

It has long been believed that elderly, which depending on your definition, are people over the age of 60 years old, are targeted by scammers due to their generations naïve upbringing. But from my perspective, a 65 year old grew up in the 60’s and there’s nothing naïve about the Vietnam war/Woodstock generation. My dad’s one of them, and we have this ongoing conversation about how there isn’t a day that goes by when someone isn’t trying to pick our pocket.

Apparently based on a recent UCLA study, a potential reason why the elderly are scammed is because of “a particular region of the brain that influences the ability to discern who is honest and who is trying to deceive us.

Older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest, the study shows. The reason for this, the UCLA life scientists found, seems to be that a brain region called the anterior insula, which is linked to disgust and is important for discerning untrustworthy faces, is less active in older adults.”

So the anterior insula disseminates good verses evil and as we age it doesn’t work so well. Worse, the study states, “It looks like their skills for making good financial decisions may be deteriorating as early as their early-to-mid-50s.” Which means a lame anterior insula coupled with deteriorating financial decision capabilities leads to a diminished ability to connect the gut to the head.
With this study, if I was a scammer, I’d be hyper focusing my market with the baby-boomer generation in mind.

Protect yourself.  Like mom said, if it’s too good to be true it is.

Scammers use incoming communications including phone, email, text and snail mail to fleece their victims. Just hang up, or delete the email or text. Responding only means engaging in their activities and cannot lead to a good outcome.

When participating in online communities, it is not necessary to disclose so many personal details. Disclosing your street address, date of birth, and identifying your relatives is unnecessary. Remember, if a cybercriminal targeting you is missing certain details needed to steal your identity, they just might ask one of your “specified” relatives. Don’t make it easy for them.

Many social networks, dating sites, gaming sites and online auctions are one step ahead of such bad actors.  By employing identity, credit and device reputation checks provided by online fraud prevention companies, these layered approaches proactively detect and thwart cyber scammers in their tracks.

Celebrities Are Lures For Scammers

“Just Google it.” You’ve probably heard this phrase a thousand times before, and for good reason—search is one of the top activities we do online[1]. But while you are searching online for information and content, keep in mind that scammers are also searching for victims.

Scammers have been very productive in creating fake or infected websites, which are designed to do harm to your computer, your finances or your identity. The bait that lures us to these infected websites may be the latest Twitter trend, a breaking news story, a significant world event, downloads, and even celebrity pictures or gossip. And, the more popular the search, the more likely you are to run into dangerous results.

For the 6th year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal which ones are the riskiest to search for online. Emma Watson has taken over the #1 spot from Heidi Klum as the Most Dangerous Celebrity to search for on the Web (#riskyceleb). This year also marks the first time that the entire Top 10 list is comprised of all women. The top 10 celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentages of risk are:

Cybercriminals often use the names of popular celebrities to tempt viewers to visit websites that are actually laden with malicious software. Anyone looking for the latest videos or pictures could end up with a malware-ridden computer instead of the trendy content they were expecting.

And beware of “free” things. Scammers know that this is a word that can get a lot of attention and will use this as a way to get to you. This year, when searching for “Emma Watson and ‘free’ downloads,” and “Emma Watson and hot pictures” and “Emma Watson and videos” you run the risk of running into online threats designed to steal your personal information.

Here’s some tips to help you stay safe while searching online (whether it be from your PC or mobile device):

Use common sense: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Always double-check the web address (URL) that you are going to. For example, if you are searching for Amazon.com and get a result for “Amazzon.cn”, you should know not to click.

Use a safe search plug-in, such as McAfee® SiteAdvisor® software that displays a red, yellow, or green ratings in search results, warning you to potential risky sites before you click on them.

Use comprehensive security software to protect against the latest threats.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

Preventing Slip and Fall Scams in your Business

In a down economy people are acting strangely. Desperation makes people do desperate things and insurance fraud is on the rise.

The Middletown Journal reports  “Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury to customers and employees, and liability awards for customers who are injured can be tens of thousands of dollars or more, according to insurers. Nationwide, about 2,168 insurance claims last year were submitted to the National Insurance Crime Bureau for referral because they were questionable, according to the organization. This was up 12 percent from 1,944 questionable claims in 2010.”

While most slip and falls are legitimate claims, slip and falls accidents are an old scam that can be lucrative for a professional scammer.

One of the most effective tools to combat slip and falls is video surveillance. Video is the single most effective teller of the truth.

Cameras are everywhere. Some people call this an invasion of privacy. I say the more cameras the better. We are on camera at most retails stores, banks, ATMs, busy intersections, highways, downtown areas and in neighborhoods. We are a video camera soaked society and it’s a good thing. It keeps the honest people honest and the bad guys in-check or in jail.

The good news for small business is cameras are now affordable than ever. Peace of mind comes from knowing there are security cameras strategically placed inside and outside your business. Best of all, with security camera systems, you can watch video from any room in the facility, on any connected TV or dedicated monitor. And when you’re on-the-go, keep an eye on your business with remote video security using any web-enabled computer, smart phone, or iPad.

*Content expressed in Security For Small Business does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Scams Are a Sport This Summer

Scammers tend to follow an editorial calendar much like journalists do. For example when the holiday season is coming journalists often write about bargains to be had while scammers use the season as an opportunity to try and entice users with deals that are “too good to be true.”

This same practice is also used for high-value news items such as a natural disasters, celebrities and high-profile sporting events. Many of us are not aware of the risks and threats associated with such high-profile sporting events and the impact this could have on you, your devices and your personal data. In fact, in a recent survey done by OnePoll for McAfee, only 13% of Brits are worried about a cyber threat spoiling their enjoyment of the summer’s sporting events.

As the world descends into a sporting frenzy this summer, it can be easy to become a little sloppy about keeping your mobile devices safe and secure. However, now is the time when we need to be more cautious.

McAfee has recently identified several scams related to sports which encourage consumers to share their personal details. These can take the form of text messages, social network spam or emails offering fake tickets or lottery wins.

In order to help you keep your mobile devices protected during this summer of sport, you should:

Heed the advice of too good to be true
Be wary of phony websites, emails, texts and pop-ads offering “too good to be true” deals on tickets to sporting events, autographed merchandise, and “winning” a trip to events.

Back-up your data
Before you leave on a vacation to a major sporting event, make sure you’ve made a replica of your data from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or any other devices you’re taking with you. That way in case your device is lost or stolen, you still have all our data. Also consider deleting any personal information on the device that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Disable location services
Before posting photos on sites like Facebook, turn off GPS to avoid having your location information falling into the wrong hands.

Don’t let your apps remember your user names and passwords: Also make sure you don’t store credit card information or passwords on websites. If your smartphone or laptop is lost criminals can easily access these accounts

Be careful when using Wi-Fi networks
Avoid using public or free Wi-Fi networks when trying to access information online. Your information could easily be stolen without your knowledge and you should log in to any financial or shopping sites.

Use “safe search” technology
Make sure that install software the alerts you to risky sites that you may receive via email, texts, IMs or social networking sites. This will prevent you from going to a site that could download malicious software on your mobile device that could steal your identity and financial information.

The world’s biggest sporting event is something to be enjoyed by all and by following these tips, you can stay safe and just enjoy the event!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)