Did you know that 15% of identity theft is employment-related fraud? Think about it — businesses have access to a wealth of information that thieves can use to their advantage. Many businesses don't dispose of this information in a secure manner, so your personal information is there for the taking.
This risk occurs also when you are applying for jobs that turn out to be scams but that ask you for personal information.
TrustedID, a company that delivers proactive identity theft protection solutions, was kind enough to share with me some questions to ask to determine if a job posting is a scam, as well as some steps for protecting yourself against employment-related identity theft.
Questions to ask to determine if a job posting is a scam
- Is this a legitimate business — do they have a Website, and can I find both a physical address and a business license for them?
- Are they asking me for any personal information that makes me uncomfortable or seems inappropriate up front?
- Are they offering to pay me cash or too much money for the job being requested?
- Are they promising to pay me with cash?
Steps to protect yourself
- Create a separate e-mail account for your job search and keep your primary email address private.
- Avoid any company that wants to hire you as a "payment representative" or "account receivable clerk." This scam indicates that you get to keep a percentage of all checks or money orders you place in a bank account for them. Do not open a bank account for a company. You will be the responsible party should any money laundering occur or if checks bounce.
- Be wary of Craigslist postings — anyone can post anything they'd like. Use various resources to ensure a company really exists.
- Avoid any Website that requires you to "pre-register" with your Social Security Number or driver's license number. A recent scam asked for new candidates to give them their bank information so they could make sure they could send them their payroll check. These candidates gave them access to their bank account and — surprise — they didn't put any money in, they took money out. Never provide your bank account details unless you are hired.
- Use caution when filling out online forms — Online forms are the perfect place for an identity thief to steal your personal information. These forms usually request private information such as your driver's license number and Social Security Number. If you're filling out an application online (or even if you're just sending a resume online), be certain you're on a legitimate Website and that the site is secure. If you're not sure, find out if the information can be sent directly to the company.
- Get your identity protected with TrustedID — the only company that protects your whole identity with a comprehensive, proactive protection. Protection includes fraud alerts to help stop new lines of credit in your name, junk mail reduction, public and private database scanning for misuse of your personal information, and more.
For more information, visit the TrustedID Website.
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Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.