As a job seeker, you are automatically more vulnerable to identity theft. When you’re looking for a job, you need to communicate and provide your information to people that you don’t know. Often job seekers are so motivated to get hired that they would be willing to provide any of their information if it meant that they were more likely to get a job. Unfortunately, there are identity thieves hiding amongst legitimate employers who are plotting to get your private information. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself:
Be selective about where you apply. To be a savvy job seeker, you need to learn how to identify potential scams. Here are some red flags to look for: Is the company lacking a functional website or an actual physical location that you can visit? Are there grammar or spelling errors in the job advertisement? Do the details of the job sound too good to be true? If you spot these red flags, or any others, be very careful when dealing with that employer.
Be selective about the information that you provide to employers. Always think twice before you provide your personal information to employers. Never give them your SIN, banking information, drivers license number, birth date, or marital status unless you are confident that they are a legitimate employer and that you actually have a job there. If you feel that the employer is asking you for too much information, you can always ask them why they need it, and then decide if you are comfortable providing it to them.
Be careful about the information that you post online. When you’re using online job sites, think carefully about the information that you post online. Since you don’t know who will be accessing your profile, don’t post your SIN, your home address, your phone number, your birth date, your driver’s license number, or any other private information. Employers can contact you through your e-mail address. Also, take a look at the privacy settings on the sites where you post so that you can have some control over who views your information.
Be wary of unsolicited emails or job offers. In this tight job market, unless you have a very unique skill set, it is unlikely that you will ever receive unsolicited job offers. Keep careful records of where you applied so that you know if an employer is contacting you out of the blue. If you do receive a call from an employer that you did not submit an application to, ask them where they received your contact information. If you are comfortable with their response, you can proceed but be careful.
Since scammers are constantly changing their tactics, it is impossible to cover all of your bases all of the time. Therefore, you always have to be on your guard. Learn to rely on your intuition and to pay attention when something doesn’t seem right. Don’t proceed with any employer that makes you feel uncomfortable.
(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)