(WHTM) — Protecting your identity online is more important than ever as social engineering attacks are on the rise. What does that mean?

“A social engineering attack is when a criminal manipulates an individual and takes their information,” said the program director for ID.me, Mere Work. ID.me is a digital platform that helps verify your identity online.

Work says scammers have been lurking on the internet forever, but not, they are getting much more sophisticated.

“They are weaponizing social media platforms and fake job sites and they are stealing your information,” Work said.

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In 2021, consumers lost nearly $6 billion to fraud. “Under the pandemic unemployment program, almost every American was eligible to potentially be on unemployment benefits so the payout was absolutely enormous for these criminals. It created a very lucrative opportunity and they needed as many victims as possible,” Work explained.

Scammers are using social media professional profiles and job recruitment websites to steer you toward fake job listings. Once there, you will fill out what you think is a job application.

“It’s going to take them through a process where they might be asked to give their social security number, their drivers license, and all of these things, and they’re masquerading as H.R. But, it’s not a legitimate company and what is happening is these criminals are getting all of this information directly from consumers,” Work said.

Work adds that having your identity stolen can be very devastating. That is why, if you’re looking for a job, it is important to pay close attention to the websites you’re using and where the jobs are posted. Check the URL of any links before you click them and look for misspellings and grammatical errors on websites.

“If there’s any hesitancy about the validity of any of these sites they can go directly to the company. Call them, contact H.R., etc., to make sure this is legitimate and this is not a scam,” Work explained.

Experts say you also need to take steps to protect your identity online, including making your social media profiles private. Businesses should do their part too by instituting identity verification practices so they can protect the consumers who are using their products and websites.

To learn more about protecting your identity, click here.