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Over the last few weeks I’ve been receiving emails with subject lines like “Job Application Pending”. Since I don’t have any job applications out, I already know something is fishy. But if you’ve been applying to jobs, then you need to be careful about emails such as these as they appear to be phishing scams designed to steal your identity.
The email contains variations of the following information:
What makes this email difficult for you the job hunter is that it’s personalized so it looks like it’s a response to an application you submitted.
Here are the red flags:
1) It doesn’t give you the name of the company or the job title to which you applied.
2) The name given as the sender doesn’t match the name in the email address
3) It uses a shortened URL service instead of a web address that includes its domain name.
4) When I click the link, my virus protection pops up warning me about suspicious activity on the page.
Research on this scam reveals that it asks you to fill out information for a credit check that would “prove” you’re a real person. Don’t fall for it. If you do, you’ll have given thieves a way to steal your identity, which can be very difficult to fix. Until you’re being hired, hold on to all your identifying information including your social security number.
To avoid this scam, keep a list of all the jobs you’ve applied to including the name of the company, the job title, and where you found the job (i.e. Craigslist). When you get emails from prospective employers, check that they match the jobs you’ve sent applications too. (Note: If you’re using a service like ODesk or Elance, you may get emails asking you to apply to jobs, but they’ll be accessible through the Odesk or Elance interface, and they will give you information about who’s contacting you and for what job.) Don’t give out your social security until the company is ready to hire you. (You need to provide it eventually for tax purposes).