Many identity thieves use bogus job applications as a means of gathering personal information from unwary job seekers. Everyone needs a job. Sometimes we even need two jobs. Making a living in today’s economy is a real challenge for many people, so finding worthwhile employment is incredibly important. The last thing most of us think about when we are searching online for job opportunities is whether or not that application we are filling out could possibly be an identity theft scam.
Most of us wouldn’t even consider that someone might be baiting us to give up our personal information for the purpose of stealing our identity. The sad truth is that online identity theft happens every day, and one of the largest identity theft scams involves online job applications.
How to Identify Employment-Related Online Identity Theft
We’ve all heard that saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, that same saying applies to questionable job opportunities, as well. Many times, online identity thieves will use tactics such as lucrative salaries and enticing benefits to lure unsuspecting people into giving out their most personal and valuable information. Many times, these scams can be spotted by looking for a few tell-tale signs:
- Unusually high salaries. Employers are interested in hiring good workers at a fair wage. What they aren’t interested in doing is spending good money on low-level jobs. Offers which have a higher-than-normal salary may be an indication of an online identity theft scam.
- Poor grammar and spelling. Many online identity thieves are from foreign countries and do not have a great command of the English language. Improper spelling and simple grammar mistakes are sure indications that something might be wrong. Legitimate corporations hire professional web designers and content writers to ensure that their job portals are free of such errors.
- Do they have a legitimate website? Many of the scammers who are trying to steal your identity contact people directly through free email accounts that are not tied directly to a business. The absence of a website is a very good indication of a bogus and fraudulent effort to gain your information.
- Asking for social security numbers and bank account information. No one should ever give out this information on a basic job application. Professional human resources representatives will never request such information until after a job has been offered and accepted.
- Offering jobs that don’t require an interview. Even with online jobs, most employers will request either an in-person interview or a meeting online with a video conference call.
- Requesting payment for their services. While there are legitimate job services that request a fee for finding a job, the typical business that is looking to hire employees will never ask for an upfront fee. Such requests are an excellent indication that the “employer” is after more than just information.
Take Steps to Prevent ID Theft
There are several things that you can do to prevent ID theft. Don’t ever give out social security numbers, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, or bank account information online. Other things that can provide ID theft protection are only posting your resume onto reputable online job services. Such job search organizations are themselves actively watching for illegal job scams and screen all employers to ensure that their businesses are legitimate. The only purpose for a resume is to help the job seeker get an interview. It may be prudent to leave off detailed employment histories and provide only the essential pieces of information that a real employer would be interested in.
One of the most valuable things you can do to find a good job and at the same time guard your identity is to do some research into the company itself. Even if the business doesn’t have a website, it probably has a record with the local Better Business Bureau, local and state government taxation office, city business license office, or state attorney general’s office. Doing a little research can do a lot to prevent ID theft.
Why It’s Important to Guard Your Identity
The benefits of basic ID theft protection are many. People who steal your identity do more than take your name. They can access your bank account, your social security benefits, state and federal tax and income reports, credit reports, employment records, educational records, military service records, and much, much more. If you do not guard your identity, thieves may be able to take out credit cards and loans in your name, and then default on them. This impacts your credit record, which, in turn, can impact your employment efforts, your ability to buy a car or a house, or to enroll in colleges and universities. Even medical records can be accessed and corrupted by a thief using someone else’s identification.
Looking for a good job is stressful enough without having to worry about identity theft. Taking a few extra moments to research a company, ask questions, and use care in completing online job applications will go a long way in efforts to prevent ID theft.
Amy Johnson is an active blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances. Follow her and learn how your credit score can affect your job acceptance.
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