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Spammers Take Advantage Of Struggling Economy

March 5, 2009

An economic recession is giving computer thieves, who are trying to steal people’s identities, a new way to access online information through the help of job offers.

Computer hackers are adding a fresh twist to stale spam, by sending fake emails from legitimate companies that say they’re still hiring.

Experts say the messages are loaded with links to the company’s official Web site to throw off suspicious recipients.

Another setback for computer users is the fact that the emails are also carrying a computer virus that is hidden in an attachment that is supposed to be a job application.

One fake message from Coca-Cola Co., reads “We are hiring!” All the recipient has to do is fill out the attached application to get started.

Savvy consumers can find several red flags to the message. For one, it’s written in choppy English. Plus, the company promises 12 weeks of paid vacation and that “None of the positions require any kind of education or work experience!”

Spammers are also sending e-mails pretending to reject people for jobs, instead of trying to recruit them. Those messages say the recipients weren’t selected for a particular job, so the company has sent back their application which is disguised as a malicious program.

“What they’re trying to tap into is human curiosity,” said Dermot Harnett, principal analyst of anti-spam engineering with Symantec Corp.  “Maybe people have lost their jobs, or they’re looking for another job, and they’re looking at their e-mail constantly to see if they have responses from potential employers.”

The economic stimulus is another tool spammers are using to trick consumers. The Federal Trade Commission warns about an onslaught of economic-stimulus spam messages promising stimulus money simply by revealing bank account or credit card numbers.

Security experts say a simple way to protect yourself is by never clicking on links or opening e-mail attachments from people you don’t know.

Additionally, if you’re a jobseeker who gets one of these messages, contact the company’s human resources department directly to make sure a job opening exists.

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