If you’re unemployed and searching for a job, having your identity stolen or receiving scam job offers just adds insult to injury. Fortunately, recruiting was one of the first businesses to move online, and the industry’s experience means it’s a pretty safe place to operate.
You should always be on guard against identity theft. You can protect yourself by using a little common sense and following these tips:
First, provide limited contact information. Consider using a professional alias like “Innovative Network Specialist,” or just your first initial and last name. Until you’re certain that you’re communicating with a legitimate employer or recruiter, provide only your city and state of residence and a cell phone number.
Never include your social security number on your resume or the year you graduated from college. You want to make it as hard as possible for a perpetrator to trace your identity.
Use a free e-mail account, or a mailbox dedicated exclusively to your job search. That way you can keep search-related e-mail separate from personal e-mail, and shut down the extra mailbox once you’ve landed a position.
Provide additional information with caution: Yes, it’s possible your ID could be stolen from an employer or staffing agency. But landing a job requires trust, and legitimate employers and agencies take precautions to make sure your data is secure.
To be on the safe side, never give a prospective employer or recruiter your social security number, unless you know why they need it. If the recruiter needs the information for a background check, ask which screening company will be used, and who will have access to the report.
Research the senders of any e-mail to make sure they’re a legitimate recruiter before answering. Don’t respond to any request for money, or any advertisement that offers to find you a job for a fee. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.