Any of us can become victims of identity theft, but job seekers may be especially vulnerable because, as The Ladders.com career website points out, many candidates for employment are willing to provide any information requested by a prospective employer that might help them land a job.
Identity theft is not a small problem. Transunion.com says every minute in the U.S. the identities of 19 people are stolen.
Steps to Protecting Your Identity
Despite the alarming statistic, becoming a victim of identity theft can be avoided, especially while job hunting. First, you may want to enrol in one of the trusted services to protect against fraud, such as LifeLock. With service through an ID theft protection company, you will be alerted immediately if any attempt is made to impersonate you, or use your profile information.
Second, remain reluctant to volunteer personal information, and never disclose your Social Security number during your job search. Many job applications will request this information. However, simply indicate “Will disclose upon hire” in the space provided, as All Clear ID recommends.
Third, be aware of employment scams or just overly nosy employers. If any employer you connect with on line demands personal identifying information during the search process beyond your name, email address and telephone number, close the website you’re looking at immediately. In 2014, a prospective employer doesn’t need your street address, P.O. Box, or the year you graduated college. Being asked for a Social Security number, credit card or bank account information, or marital status to consider you for a job is out of the question. Your name is all they need to conduct an on line search of your professional footprint.
Guard Your Resume
Don’t post your resume on line. Instead, attach it only to carefully chosen applications. Putting your resume on line exposes you to potential fraud. Around the clock, people browsing the web can find out where you’ve attended school or where you’ve worked. That may be all the ammunition they need to impersonate you on line.
Don’t give your resume to an employment recruiter paid by commission who might “shop it around” on your behalf. Not knowing whose hands it may land into could be risky for your identity. In addition, this method is not optimal job searching, as the recruiter could misrepresent you and your work history, leaving a negative impression of you. You might even lose out on a job because the employer doesn’t want to pay the recruiter a commission. Your resume could also be so widely distributed that your market value becomes reduced, as Career Alley advises.
Shield Social Media Accounts from Unrestricted Browsing
All social media accounts should be private. Identity thieves can mine a lot of data from something as straightforward as a Facebook profile containing seemingly innocuous information such as a home town, birthday (even without the year), and a friends list. By viewing your family and friend connections and visiting their profiles, criminals may be able to find out information such as your mother’s maiden name—a commonly requested piece of information to verify identity. Adjust your privacy settings to make sure the city you live in, your birthday, your friends and your photos are visible only to your chosen Facebook friends.