Rise in fake job ads, e-commerce sites seeking personal data

2 May 2012

There has been an increase in false job adverts, fraudulent websites offering cheap goods and other schemes online to trick people into sharing their personal and banking details, according to Hotline.ie.

Hotline.ie, a service run by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) to promote safety online, warned people that criminals were particularly preying on those who were unfamiliar with using the web.

It pointed out that more than 1m people are victims of cybercrime around the globe each day, according to the European Commission. Credit card details and bank credentials are being sold between organised crime groups and the cost of this is US$388bn globally.

“The internet is an amazing resource that has allowed us to book hotels, cinema tickets and buy consumer goods both easily and securely from the comfort of our homes,” said Paul Durrant, manager of Hotline.ie.

“Unfortunately, with more and more people using the internet to conduct their business, criminals see it as an easy way to gather personal information and use this for fraudulent purposes. The scams and malware they’re using are becoming increasingly more convincing and sophisticated. 

“It can literally take years before you realise your identity has been stolen and on average up to three months to resolve the situation. The public needs to learn the tell-tale signs of possible scams and take counter measures,” he said.

Durrant said people should ignore emails claiming to offer a job to the recipient and asking for bank or personal details.

“Rarely are people employed based solely on online interaction and no legitimate company would send out random unsolicited emails to recruit staff,” said Durrant.

“If you are ‘hired’ as part of these scam jobs you will likely be asked to transfer money to other accounts. You have been tricked into a money-laundering operation and if the police catch up with you, you could be prosecuted. Legitimate companies do not need to use your bank account; they will have their own,” he said.

Durrant also told people to be wary when buying goods online, noting that “if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.”

“Online consumers should compare prices across a number of sites offering the same goods,” said Durrant.

“If you click through to site from an email offer make sure it really is the company it is supposed to be from. Never give full contact details, phone numbers, etc, without checking the website against an external source like the phone directory – directories for other countries are online.  

“It’s important to search the company online and check whether there are any warnings about scams on forums,” he said.