Sometimes it’s good to be David Smith. The reason is there are so many of me. When introducing myself, I usually get “Yeah, right, buddy” or “Sure” or “Let me see your license.” I’ve actually gotten phone calls or e-mails from individuals who informed me they met a David Smith in Your Town, USA, back in 19-something and wonder if I might be him. I usually wish them luck and ask approximately how many years they have left to live to complete their search.
At times that’s bothered me, but most times I’m more than comfortable slipping into the background. The dirty little secret, however, is if I get into trouble, I use my aliases: David Jones, David Johnson, or, in really precarious situations, David Gaca.
Now, what in the world has this have to do with human resources? Well, Monster.com, the nation’s most popular employment Web site, has warned clients (job seekers) that identity thieves are luring victims from Internet job searches.
They sent out an e-mail in February to people who’ve signed up to find jobs on their site, warning them of the potential for false job postings and identity theft. The e-mail wasn’t in response to any recent identity theft problem, but it’s rather obvious it’s been a consistent issue and that Monster.com isn’t the only employment Web site having these problems.
Monster.com warned job seekers of postings that come from companies outside the U.S. because of a disproportionate number of fake listings from eastern Europe. Basically, con artists pose as legitimate employers—like Ford or IBM—and will do e-mail or phone interviews asking for sensitive information for pre-hire background checks. They usually ask for social security, credit card, and bank account numbers under this pretext. They ask for this information because legitimate employers eventually need it for security checks. Another scam involves grabbing resumes posted on Web sites and selling them to others who can then use the information for identity theft.
It’s understandable this problem has materialized as more people utilize the Internet to look for jobs. In this difficult job market, it’s easier to convince applicants to give up personal information. Monster.com, which has more than 24 million resumes and hundreds of thousands of jobs posted, screens postings for suspicious details that might indicate they’re false. They’ve warned job seekers not to give out any personal numbers or personal information, even for claims of background checks. They recommend job seekers first verify the employer and wait until after an in-person interview before releasing sensitive information.
Since I’m not in the job market, being David Smith probably causes me no issues with Monster. Of course, my name has gotten me in trouble at times. In one incident I was pulled into a university police station after a parking violation and informed of a warrant for my arrest. The person they were looking for was 5 foot 10, weighing 165 pounds, with 23 Hispanic aliases. The police joked that I must have eaten a lot of Big Macs since the warrant, as I was 6 foot 4 and 240 pounds at the time. I wasn’t amused.
So, maybe it’s easier rather than harder to steal my identity. I don’t know. Just don’t get any ideas. IBI