As we know it, the ultimate goal of any Cyberattacks is to get to your personal and confidential information/data.  With this, the hacker can gain pretty much easy access to all of your banking and credit card account websites.  This is nothing new, heck even I have been hacked into before once a couple of years (not too proud to admit it though).  The mechanisms to get to your PII varies by the Cyberattacker.

No need to mention them, as I am sure you have heard of most of them through my blog site as well as through the news headlines.  Of course, you are probably all aware of the usual tips as to how to protect yourself, so no need to rehash on that either.  But there, is one point I am going to make, and this is actually the focal of this blog.

The Cyberattacker of today is now targeting a newer method at which to gain access to your PII – your resume, and the job employment strategies that you use in order to find employment.  In fact, according to a recent report from the Better Business Bureau, which is called the “Tech-Savvy Scammers Work to Con More Victims: 2018 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report” employment related scams were ranked #1 (which is a huge surprise to me).

The BBB Scam Tracker is based upon the “BBB Risk Index”.  This is based upon a combination of both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, and because of that it, it has been classified as proprietary.  The risk is calculated upon the following variables:

*Exposure;

*Susceptibility;

*Potential monetary loss suffered by the victim.

In fact, according to the Executive Director of the BBB, Melissa Lanning Trumpower, this is the first time in three years that this particular scam has dominated just about every category in this report. Worst yet, it was also ranked as the #1 Cyberthreat posed to military families and veterans, and even students.  The BBB cited one possible reason for this huge uptick in employment scams:  Amazon.

This was primarily due to the fact that Amazon was closely scrutinized last year because of its high-profile search for a place to locate their second headquarters. Even more surprising is that the job website of Amazon was the 6th most impersonated site, according to the BBB Scam Tracker.  This is the first time that Amazon has even made this list in 15 years.

Because of the big news headlines that Amazon made last year, the Cyberattacker took direct advantage of this, realizing that there would be a huge uptick in people applying for jobs.  And when this happens, there will of course a much greater influx of resumes, which means that people will be more prone to give out their PII. 

The BBB Scam Tracker listed the IRS as the second most widely impersonated website (keep in mind that there will be a lot of tax related scams – both to the individual and especially the accountants – so make sure to keep your guard up extra high on this one).

Other highly impersonated businesses also included Microsoft, Apple, Publishers Clearing House, and yes, even the Better Business Bureau themselves.  According to the BBB Report, the following categories are the top ten organizational websites that are most prone to a Cyberattack are as follows:

*Employment (Job Boards like Indeed, Career Builder, Dice, Glassdoor, Simply Hired, etc.);

*Online purchase (these are the E-Commerce sites);

*Fake checks/money orders (this includes spoofed Western Union sites);

*Home improvement (such as that of a spoofed Home Depot site);

*Advance fee loans;

*Romance (examples here include eHarmony, Match.com, etc.);

*Tech support;

*Investment (this would include spoofed websites of financial broker/dealers);

*Travel/vacation (such as the recent British Airways website hack);

*Government grant and funding.

My thoughts on this?

As I have stated previously – the Cyberattacker will hit the hardest when its peak season for something.  For instance, during periods of an economic slowdown or even recession, jobs obviously become scarcer, and companies tend to cut jobs in order to save money.  Probably the worst of this came in back in 2008, at the height of the Great Recession.

It as this point that an individual is at their weakest.  In desperation to find work, an individual will quickly give away their PII if they get a call from a recruiter about a potential job interview or even offer.  But this where you have to have your defenses come up and think twice about the information you give out. 

Yes, you may want to find work, but that does not mean you sacrifice your own identity.  Giving away your phone number is one thing, but giving away your Social Security number on a job application is a huge no-no.  Here are some tips that come from my own experiences when I did my job hunting:

*Consider getting a PO Box address in lieu of putting your actual home address on your resume;

*Set up a brand-new email address that is completely separate from your personal email address that is just dedicated to your job search;

*Under no circumstances should you ever give out your Social Security number until you have received an authentic job offer and you need to give it out to confirm your work eligibility;

*Never pick up a call from a phone number that you do not recognize.  If the recruiter is for real, he or she will always leave a voicemail, with authentic number for you to call them back on;

*Just like with Phishing E-Mails, it is getting very difficult these days in determining what is a real one from a recruiter and which is a spoofed up one.  Always trust your gut on this one.  If you have any doubts, call the number that is provided on the Email.  Take this even one step further and make your number as “Unknown” on your mobile device.  This is so whoever picks up the line on the other does not gain easy access to your phone number;

*Never respond to text messages that claim to be from a recruiter.  Always delete them, especially if they contain an attachment.  Remember, a genuine recruiter will never text you as their first means of reaching out to you.  They will either call and/or Email you first.

*Never enter your Social Security Number on an online job application.  If you cannot submit an application without providing one, then use something like 111-11-1111 or 123-45-6789, or some other numerical combination, but not your own!!!

Another area from the BBB Report that will soon see a lot of scams is that of the tech support one.  There is a lot that I can write on that, but it will come in a later post.  Stay safe in your job search, and I hope you land the job of your dreams!!!

Finally, the BBB report can be downloaded at this link:

https://www.bbb.org/bbbscamtrackerriskreport/