Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parker and Harris - Fake, identity theft employment site.

My son started pre-k a few weeks ago. I've been casually looking for a job for the past few moths because I want to feel like I have a purpose and also need something to do. I've been home with him since he was born and always worked full time up to that point. The job market has changed so much in the past four years.

My resume is currently posted on Monster and Careerbuilder. I typically log on every morning and update my resume on each site and then proceed to search out positions that sound interesting to me. Over the past month or so, I've applied to quite a few positions, which all mostly result in no response.

Last week, I received a response from a "so called" search firm by the name of Parker and Harris. The email said I had passed the initial stage of screening and had to go to their website and complete some additional questions, which I did. At the end of the questions, the site noted that the particular position I was being considered for would be handling money, etc. and they needed my credit report. I was instructed to go to Creditreport.com and complete a credit report. When I finished the credit report, I was supposed to go back to their site and enter my member number from Creditreport.com. Duh, this should have been a red flag, over and over. I'm not stupid and I'm not even desperate for a job. Why did my common sense fail me? I don't know where my head was. Anyway, I completed my credit report (all of this was done after clicking the link to Creditreport.com through Parker and Harris's website.

I thought nothing of this when I finished their online questionnaire. I called Creditreport.com a few minutes later to cancel my membership with them. They offer a 7 day trial period and you can cancel anytime within those 7 days and not be charged. When I told the agent why I had ordered the report and why I was canceling, she was like, "Are you sure you want to give you credit info to a potential employer without meeting them first"? I was like, "No, these guys are fine. They look completely legit. Their website was great and they seemed so professional". I checked today and they've already shut it down. Go figure!

When I hung the phone up, I started Googling this company and found nothing on them, except for this post noting to be aware of identity theft scams like this one. My heart sank. I became very nervous. I went back to Parker and Harris's website and got their phone number and searched it as well. Apparently these scammers have operated under the same phone number, but change their business name and website address frequently. This website was also just thrown up at the beginning of September and is registered to someone in the Bahamas, as noted on Whois. I'm so dumb. I usually check stuff like this out, but my smarts failed me this time. I started to think these guys had some key logger program built into their website, which tracked all of my keystrokes. This would have given them my ss#, my address, date of birth, debit card number required for the credit report, everything. I called Creditreport.com again and asked to speak with a supervisor. I told him I wanted to change my member id number, just in case they would have access to the credit report online somehow. He said I couldn't do that, but I could go in and change my log in and password, which I did. Next, I called my bank and canceled my debit card. I also reported these jerks to the
FTC. This all happened because they wanted to either steal my identity or drain my bank account. I was really upset, as you can imagine. More upset with myself for being so gullible and stupid. I never do stuff like this.

I emailed Parker and Harris, told them I had reported them to the FTC and closed or canceled everything. I started looking online for anti-malware sites to remove any crazy stuff from my computer and the next thing I know, my computer completely shut down. Those jerks put some crazy worm or virus on my computer and shut it down. I was so mad, I just went to bed.

Yesterday, I woke up and started messing with my computer again. I went into safe mode and tried to do a system restore from an earlier date and it didn't work. I tried once more to a way earlier date and it worked. My computer came back on. I got back into Windows, got online and started downloading as much security, anti-malware and other virus programs for my computer. All of this could have been avoided if I would have been smarter about what I was doing. I didn't even know key logger programs existed, but they do. These internet crooks don't care about you. They just want your money or your identity.

I'm not overly concerned about my identity because I have so many student loans. I know they will be unable to open credit in my name. My debt to loan ratio is through the roof. I was just concerned about the bank account, but managed to shut that down before they had the opportunity to use it. I also read there are new, fake emails coming from Linkedin. If you use that site and receive a request from someone you don't know, I would recommend going to the site and checking your requests there. You don't want to end up with spyware, malware or some crazy virus just because you clicked on a random link sent to your email.

Anyway, I hope I am able to prevent this from happening to someone else. Please use my stupidity to your advantage and always check things out before going through what I went through.

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