In this tough economy, it's hard enough for record numbers of the unemployed to find a job. Now, in addition to fighting the frustration of a challenging job search; the desperate unemployed also have to fend off a new trend of clever and unscrupulous online scam artists using deceptively enticing job offers.
With the current unemployment rate at 9.8%, more and more discouraged workers are becoming potential easy targets in danger of being victimized online.
"As the unemployment rate stays stagnant, more and more cyber-criminals turn to that captive audience to exploit them," says Eric Klein, PC Tools. "An unemployed worker might be online and they'll see a page pop up that offers them the opportunity to make several hundred dollars a day from the comfort of their own home. That's a very attractive option for someone who's looking for work", says Klein, "... however, the problem is that it's a very aggressive and direct attempt to get credit card information."Manager, Online Conversion, for
Klein says one of the more alarming tactics that these scam artists are using to deceive people is using the logos of fake, or even legitimate news sites, to look like a genuine news article. The ultimate goal is to entice a potential scam victim into giving out their personal and financial information in exchange for employment opportunities.
"Some of the sites are quite clearly fake and with a little digging online, you can determine they're not a legitimate news source," says Klein, "... but, many others are using logos for NBC, CNN, USA Today deceiving folks into thinking these genuine news organizations are saying these job opportunities are great, when in fact, they're fake companies using real logos to entice people to be scammed."
Here's how the experts say many of the scams work in general.
- Illegitimate websites appear with news media logos and fake "breaking news" stories on the topic of working from home to earn money immediately.
- They try to attract the users into signing up because the site says that there are very few positions left and that they should act fast.
- When users try to leave the page, the site offers them a chat with an "Agent" to "secure your position." The agent tries to appear as a real person, but it's actually an automated bot.
- The bot tries to push the user into signing up, repeating that there are very limited places available, and giving links to the sign up page.
- When users sign up, they are asked for their credit card details. This could result in massive fraudulent charges and even identity theft.
Surprisingly, these scams are having great success even though the offers seem obviously "too good to be true."
"I think when you have a large segment of the population that is vulnerable right now, because financially they're in a more difficult position than they've been in several years... in some cases, they're desperate to get their families back on track and start making money again," says Klein, "... they're going to look for any opportunity they can. There's a sense of desperation with a lot of people that tends to help them overlook the risks in the background."
Klein suggests some basic rules of thumb and some old fashioned common sense can prevent you from falling victim to these increasingly visible and aggressive scams targeting the unemployed.
"You should, quite frankly, not believe everything you read," says Klein, "... when you see something that looks too good to be true, do a little more research. Make sure that if you're on a page that's claiming to be a news site, then also make sure that it's legitimate."
Klein adds, "No genuine news organization or website is going to ask for your credit card information. They're not in the business of processing payments for the types of opportunities that these sites are offering. If you see one that does ask for that information, then that's a very, very clear red flag."