With the unemployment rate rising and living costs going up, more people are looking for new jobs or second jobs. Job seekers often register with employment agencies, check employment ads, mail out unsolicited resumes, network with others, post resumes on job search sites, and often search craigslist.
Unfortunately identity thieves are taking advantage of these uncertain economic times to scam job seekers and gather personal identifying information. The Identity Theft Resource Center offers these suggestions to avoid being victimized:
Resumes and online applications
• Never put your Social Security Number or Taxpayer ID number on a resume or application. Additionally, do not include driver's license number or professional license numbers. Most items of PII should be only provided during an interview, not on a job application.
• Omit home address and consider just using city and state.
• Consider opening a separate email account for your job search and keep your primary email address private. Placing your email address on a resume could open the door to spam and phishing, account verification, and other email scams.
• Do not provide such personal information as marital status or hobbies.
Internet and newspaper ads
• Validate a company you find on a website carefully before giving them your information. Anyone can create a website, but it certainly doesn't mean that they are a real company. Most reputable companies will have a significant presence on the Internet.
• Confirm any and all contact information for the business. Does the email contain the domain name of the company? Is the FAX number in the same area code as the corporate number? Most importantly, does the company list a "brick and mortar" physical address that can be verified?
• Confirm the location of the company. Is it within the U.S.?
• Avoid any website that requires you to "pre-register" with your SSN, home address or driver's license number. Also, you should not be required to prepay to view job listings. The presence of these requirements is strong indicators of a scam.
• Update your computer security prior to emailing resumes and receiving email correspondence. Make sure your computer security is currently updated against viruses, trojans, and other types of computer malware. This can help to protect you from any intrusion or computer attack.
• Companies might want to conduct a background check of you, both financial and/or criminal. Some people find out they are victims of identity theft during this process. Be aware that you are allowed to view the results of any background checks, so that you can verify their accuracy.
• If you find an error in your report, let the interviewer know immediately. Ask for a photocopy of the report and tell them that this is either fraudulent or a clerical error. Ask for a few days to investigate the problem.
• If the error/fraudulent records are in your credit history, you automatically qualify for a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Call Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742), and TransUnion (800-680-7289) to request your credit reports.
• If the error is in a criminal background check, you need to contact the law enforcement agency that reported the criminal incident, i.e. outstanding warrant, and find out what is going on. Please contact the ITRC if you need help with this process, toll free (888) 400-5530.
The safest ways to job search are to use local want ads, visit the unemployment office, use temp employment services, tell friends and family about your search, and network via professional groups and business acquaintances. When contacting a local company, you can physically meet them, see the facilities, and ask acquaintances in that industry about their reputation.
It is very risky to contact foreign companies, especially those from Africa, Russia, and Asia, unless you have direct knowledge of their credibility.