Everything old is new again

Apply for a job, lose your identity

Quite literally. Apparently, one of the latest forms of identity theft is to put up a job posting on Monster.com — and harvest all the excellent information that comes in someone’s application. It’s fiendishly brilliant. In the few jobs where I’ve had hiring power, I’ve been astonished how frequently people include their social-security number on their resume. From CNet:

The largest U.S. online job board, a division of TMP Worldwide, sent e-mails to its users this week telling them that fraudulent job positions were being posted as a way to obtain personal information. The e-mail offered suggestions to prevent theft, such as never revealing social security, credit card or nonwork-related information to potential employers.

“Regrettably, from time to time, false job postings are listed online and used to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers,” according to a copy of the e-mail forwarded by a reader. “The placement of such false job postings is a violation of the Monster terms of use and may also be a criminal violation of federal and/or state law.”

Still, there are plenty of easier ways to steal someone’s identity. For example:

1) Go to the ATM machines at your local bank around 6 pm on a Friday or Monday. People frequently get paid those days, and after depositing their checks, they often leave the stubs lying around the ATM area. I’ve frequently seen stubs lying around that had someone’s name, address, social-insurance number, and even their phone number and bank account number. Plus, you find out how much they make, which is super-useful for social engineering and stealing their identity.

2) Go to the bank of payphones at an elite hotel like the Waldorf Astoria in New York. One afternoon I spent an hour making a bunch of business calls there, and I was shocked at how frequently incredibly rich older business guys would holler out their personal information into those phones. Half the guys were old enough to be kind of deaf, and they invariably were booking flights or doing something that required their credit card — so in the course of an hour, I listened as about six guys bellowed the spelling of their name, their Platinum American Express Card number, and the expiry date, at full volume. Just unbelievable.

(Thanks to Slashdot for finding this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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