Posted by: kenwbudd | November 17, 2009

Identity Scams on Job Search Sites: Protect yourself

1. Never share your bank account information (with anyone)
Legitimate employers don’t need to access your bank account until you become an employee. They are more interested in getting the right candidate. If you are asked for bank account details as part of the application process, it’s a warning sign that this “employer” is up to no good.
2. Never share your Social Security number (with anyone)
Legitimate employers will ask for your Social Security number only when they have made a considered selection and are serious about making a job offer (e.g., after they’ve interviewed you).

They can conduct a background check after they have made, and you have accepted, their offer. Also, they do not need your Social Security number, for tax purposes or any other reasons. Identity thieves will be very persuasive and will try different ways to ask for your Social Security number up front. Don’t give your SS number to anyone.

3. Never agree to a background check online
Until you have proof that you are a bone fide candidate for a bone fide position, it’s not necessary for an employer to do a background check, the only exception may be the government but they will be very sympathetic to your requests to prove their legitimacy.

In fact, given the high level of responses from every job ad posted, the average HR department has neither the time, the funds nor the resources to do ‘background checks’ on all candidates.

4. Research potential employers (always)
If you’re unsure whether a potential employer you’ve found on a job search site is legitimate, it is very easy to check them out. Find out whether the business has a physical address and check with the local town hall, mayor’s office, directory of companies or even the telephone guides.

All companies and organisations have customers, support services and suppliers. Ask who they are? A scammer will get very defensive but a ‘real’ company can see this as a candidate showing interest in their organisation. Even if they don’t know there and then, they will be able to give you a better ‘sense’ of the company.

5. Consider sharing less information on your resume.
Many people include their phone numbers and mailing addresses on their resumes, and indeed, employers like to know job applicants’ area codes and Zip /Post codes because they sometimes screen candidates based on that information.

So, if your wary of identity theft, you should only include one e-mail address, during the initial stages with prospective employers. The e-mail address that you use should be a clean and unique e-mail address, created only for your job search. Keep your personal e-mail accounts and social networking sites /usernames, private.

6. Opt out.
When you sign up for e-mail newsletters and offers from legitimate businesses, opt out of receiving offers from their third-party business partners. It will definitely cut down on the amount of spam e-mail you receive and substantially decrease the chances of your personal information ending up on the scammers black market.

There are no signs of these job search scams abating, but as the holiday season approaches, identity thieves are likely to shift their tactics to target online bargain shoppers. The more adventurous will run parallel activities, of course.

Be assured, if the criminals concentrate on Xmas shoppers for the season, they will bounce back to job search sites as soon as the shops close. As long as job seekers are so willing to share personal information, identity thieves will be be there to take it.

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