Looking for a new job can be exciting or stressful, but, either way, job seekers have to be careful to safeguard their personal information against identity thieves and other scammers.
Job seekers are vulnerable to their personal information being stolen through a variety of scams. Common threats include fraudsters who post ads from fake companies on job boards, or who pose as recruiters to contact eager job seekers.
These identify thieves ask for Social Security numbers and other information far earlier in the process than a legitimate employer would, which potentially allows them to establish banking accounts in the names of applicants or to try to access their financial accounts.
While the job boards take steps to protect applicants and their personal data, job seekers still need to be careful about the information they share and who they choose to share it with.
Limit Personal Info
For most positions posted online, your resume will be the cornerstone of your job search efforts. While you need to include some personal contact info as you respond to ads, you have to be careful about providing information that can used inappropriately by identity thieves.
For example, it makes sense that you’d have to provide your first and last names, email address, and previous employment history. That will give a prospective employer enough information to help them decide whether to contact you further.
In contrast, avoid posting or providing you home address, birth date, driver’s license number or salary history until a company contacts you for an interview.
More importantly, don’t provide your Social Security number until the company says they’re going to conduct a background check or extend a job offer.
Some other effective steps to protect your identity during a job search include:
- If you see an interesting position on a job board, check whether you can apply directly on the company’s website. This can reduce the risk of a third party having your data.
- Consider setting up a dedicated email address, and buying a prepaid cell phone, for job-seeking activities. These will reduce the potential exposure of your “real” data.
- Monitor your credit reports for unusual activity. This is a good idea anyway, but is especially important during a job search.