Don’t get ensnared in resume phishing scams

By Eve Nicholas Herald Columnist

I don’t need to tell you how to use the Internet to advance your job search. Most job hunters are experts in using job boards and email communications to research companies, contact hiring managers and submit resumes for review.

Even so, I feel compelled to remind you about the downside — the Internet is rife with creeps and con artists, and many of them intentionally target job seekers through a scam called resume phishing.

In general, phishing is a cybercrime in which scammers lure computer users into giving away private information, which is exploited for financial gain. Resume phishing is the same type of identity theft that specifically targets job hunters.

Here is an example of resume phishing: You upload your resume to an online job board. Using the email address on your resume, the scammer sends you a message and tries to entice you into providing personal details about yourself.

In order to bait you into responding, the correspondence may begin with a statement like this, “I saw your online profile and wanted to tell you about an open position that you may be interested in.” It will then describe a promising job opportunity. After appealing to your desire for a new job, the message will request that you take action in one of two ways — by hitting ‘reply’ and answering questions about your background or clicking a link and filling out a fake (but real-looking) job application.

Now, I understand your need for steady employment. I know that emailed job opportunities are tempting — and some of them seem authentic. I realize that job seekers are comfortable sharing identifiable information with people they don’t know. It’s part of the hiring process, right? Scammers know this, too. They recognize that most job hunters don’t think twice about disclosing their full names and addresses; complete work histories with company names and locations, job titles and perhaps the amount of money handled in different roles; days and hours away from home; birth dates; and salary.

Unfortunately, this tendency to reveal personal information makes job hunters an easy mark for online scammers. This is why online job seekers must stay alert.

If you receive a vague or questionable email, do not reply or click on any links. Delete the message right away. However, if you have a strong feeling that the correspondence was sent from a legitimate recruiting organization, it’s time for some due diligence.

Take a close look at the email message and write down details about the company. Then, open your browser and mine for reliable facts (again, never click on links sent in the body of the email). Read every page of the organization’s web site. Find the company’s physical location on a satellite map. Perform multiple Internet searches that include the name of the business and the words “issues,” “problems” and “scam.” If you come across a respected hiring firm, great. Contact the recruiter by phone and ask to schedule an appointment.

Keep in mind that professional recruiters will value your privacy. They genuinely want to gather information about qualified candidates, but they’ll save important questions for a phone call or interview. On the other hand, if you think someone is trying to steal your information, be smart. Don’t take the bait.

Eve Nicholas: