Jobseeker Identity Theft

Jobseeker identity theft and unnecessary identity exposure are serious risks during any job search. Recently, there have been government warnings of increased online jobseeker identity theft. The internet has made it very easy for jobseekers to post their resumes online and express their interest in a new job with the press of a button. Unfortunately, the internet also makes it easier for criminals to find and take over a jobseeker’s identity. Jobseekers' public announcements of their interest in a job as well as desperate situations which make candidates become careless about sharing their information place job candidates in a vulnerable situation which may lead to jobseeker identity theft.

There have been recent reports of criminals posing as potential employers and requesting more personal information from candidates such as social security number and date of birth leading to jobseeker identity theft. Many people fall victim to this scam because they think the request is legitimate, and the information is needed for a background check or other hiring requirement. Instead, the information is used to open credit card accounts and lines of credit in the victims’ name.

There are many ways to look for a job and express one’s interest in a new career opportunity; however, certain job search strategies may be safer than others and may help reduce the risk of jobseeker identity theft. Let’s explore a few general strategies and related risks, starting with the safest of all:

1-Candidates can inquire about opportunities through their network of people and organizations before submitting their resumes. This targeted job search has many benefits. First, as a candidate, you determine whether you have any interest in a potential job after the initial inquiry. Second, you can determine if the potential employer has any interest in your skills and background before submitting your resume. And third, you send your resume to a targeted employer rather than posting it online for the world to see hoping to be contacted. Hope alone and wishful thinking should not be a major part of your strategy for fulfilling any desire including finding a new job. You should have a clear plan and strategy which improve your chances of reaching your goal.

2-You may decide to target employers in a particular industry or city. For example, you can obtain a list of companies in your city and start sending targeted resumes to their Human Resources departments. This strategy is also safer than the next 2, however, is less effective and targeted as the first one.

3-Another strategy might be to contact specialized recruiters in the field you are searching for a job. Majority of these recruiters mainly work for employers and collect a decent commission after they place you and if you stay employed for a predetermined length of time, usually 3 months. After submitting your resume to these recruiters and a potential one on one interview either in person or by phone, they might discuss with you about potential job opportunities. Only after you express your interest in the position, should they forward your resume to the employer for further considerations. Make it very clear to these recruiters from the beginning that they should not forward your resume to anyone unless expressly authorized by you. This strategy is less safe than the first two because you have no control over the recruiter's actions who might forward your resume to employers without your authorization or even worse, may post it on the Internet. A retained recruiter's loyalty is primarily to the employers who pay their commissions, and not you. If you consider this strategy alone or part of an overall strategy, make sure you are in control and carefully manage the recruiter. Don’t assume any thing and make sure you discuss with them and understand their search approach to better manage your privacy and jobseeker identity theft risks.

4-The fourth general strategy for jobseekers is to post their resumes on the internet for any one to see and consider their skills. There are major job sites to which you can register for free and post your resumes. You can post your resumes as public, private or confidential. Public makes your resume viewed by all, private allows you to target employers, and confidential makes your resume viewed by all but without your personal information such as name, address and phone number. If for some reason, you had to ignore the first three strategies and post your resume online, keep it confidential and let employers contact you based on your skills and background before you further reveal your identity, piece by piece as necessary.

If you have to look for a job on-line or off-line, there are a few additional things you should consider to avoid the risk of jobseeker identity theft. These rules should not only be followed by jobseekers but also by independent and company recruiters to protect the identities of their candidates:

-Don’t agree to send additional documentation such as a copy of your degree or certification before you have gone through the proper interviews and before they agree to hire you contingent upon delivery of those documents. Employers may insist to see your credentials before making hiring decisions but never before they interview you.

-Don’t include more personal information on your resume than you need to. Limit your personal information to name, address, and a phone number or e-mail address to contact. Don’t include your social security number, bank account number or date of birth.

-Validate the employer’s identity if they call you for additional information. One way to do this is to ask for their call back number and call them back.

-Don’t agree to a background check until you have interviewed and until the employer is ready to hire you contingent upon a clean background and credit history. Employers have to obtain your written consent to check your credit reports.

-Don’t give away your bank account numbers for direct deposit until after you are hired.

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