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Security

Monster.com warns of ID theft

The online career listing site is warning its users of fake job postings bent on stealing personal information, the company confirmed.

In an attempt to curb identity theft on its service, online career listing site Monster.com has begun warning its users of fake job postings bent on stealing personal information.

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."

The e-mail is nearly identical to a posting on the company's Web site.

"It's part of a larger 'be-safe' campaign to educate users," said Kevin Mullins, a Monster.com spokesman. He added that the e-mail notice was not the result of any specific theft.

Identity theft has been a growing problem, both online and offline. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission said ID theft complaints rose 73 percent from the previous year. Identify theft accounted for 43 percent of all consumer complaints in 2002. Oftentimes, the source of ID theft is insiders seeing or stealing consumer account lists, the FTC said.

On the Internet, ID thieves sometimes send e-mails disguised as alerts from popular Internet service providers such as America Online and Microsoft's MSN. These e-mails often ask recipients to re-enter their account names and passwords to solve a false problem on their service. The technique, called "social engineering," is a simple, yet sometimes effective, way for identity thieves to invade accounts or steal credit card numbers.

Sometimes identity thieves send instant messages to potential victims pretending they are service administrators and asking for account information.

To their credit, ISPs often display messages reminding people that their online representatives will never solicit personal information when logged on to their service. AOL, the world's largest ISP, has taken steps to battle ID theft by watermarking the e-mails it sends to its members. Online auction site eBay also has worked to prevent ID theft through education and warnings to its customers.