Friday, January 18, 2013

Job Seekers Beware: Identity Theft

When you are looking for a job you are thrilled when someone contacts you and wants to interview you for a position.  And as a potential employee, you often don't know what information you should and shouldn't share with a recruiter or hiring manager.  With unemployment running at a high level, if you are looking for a job you may feel that you need to be as helpful and as easy to deal with as possible in the hopes of landing a job.  This is just the way some identify thieves like it.

In the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports they profiled "America's Worst Scams".  #14 was about ID thieves posing as recruiters to get job seeker's personal information. The article discussed job seekers who were using online job search applications being approached by a "recruiter" who was looking to fill jobs at companies nearby. The ID theives posed as recruiters and conducted interviews in public places with these people, having them fill out detailed job applications which included name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number.  These job applicants later went to the local company as directed by the recruiter, only to learn that there were no openings and that the recruiters were not associated with the company at all.

We all think we are too smart to fall for a scam, but ID thieves can be pretty clever.  While I am sure the majority of meetings you would have with a recruiter would be above board, I think you should always be cautious about sharing your personal information.

As a job seeker this is the information you should share:
1.  Your name
2.  Your phone number
3.  Your email address
4.  Your home city, state and zip code
5.  Your work experience
6.  Your education level/degree

If you are sending in a resume, you should make sure you have that information included.  Often people put their home address, and while this is the convention, I believe you can keep this off of your resume.  A potential employer can request this of you as needed.

This is information you should never share unless it is a true employment application or offer of employment:
1.  Your Social Security Number

And beware if these questions are asked:
1.  Your mother's maiden name
2.  Your bank account information
3.  The make of your first car
4.  Your first pet's name.
Ok, maybe I am thinking about all the things you may use as your password on those last ones, but do try to keep personal information private so that ID thieves cannot use it.

So, what do you do when that friendly recruiter approaches you for an interview in a public location?  Well, first of all do your homework.  Is she really who she says she is?  Does she have a website?  Did she give you information about the job she is currently hiring for?  Have you ever heard of her before?

If you are feeling confident that this meeting may lead to a job or be good for your job search, plan on meeting her.  Beware if she puts a lengthy job application in front of you that asks for your mother's maiden name, any aliases you have ever used and your Social Security number.  If she shows up and has inconsistencies between what you talked about on the phone and what she is discussing during the meeting, keep your personal information as tightly guarded as possible. 

As a job hunter you want to be easy to interact with.  But don't be taken advantage of by those who prey on people in tough circumstances.  Keep your guard up and try to figure out if it is a real opportunity or a "phishing expedition".

Good luck out there folks!

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