Protecting Your Identity While Landing a Job

With graduation season upon on, the number of people looking for a job—whether a quick summer hire or a full-fledged career—is on the rise. Fortunately, the internet and its abundance of job hunt websites have made the work of finding work easier than ever. The downside, however, is it’s also made the work of scamming people or stealing their identities easier, too.

There are some important things to keep in mind about looking for a job, whether it’s in person or online:

1. Safeguard your data

Job applications are a bit of a catch-22. You have to provide enough information about yourself so a potential employer can figure out if you’re an ideal candidate, but you also have to protect your personal data so that it can’t be used for harm.

If you’re submitting sensitive information via a website, check for the HTTPS security signature designation, and only submit highly detailed information to reputable companies. As recent events have shown, even top-notch companies can fall victim to a data breach, so never give out your Social Security number during the application process.

2. Guard your resume

Believe it or not, your resume can actually contain a lot of information that can help scammers connect the dots. They can get your name and address, of course, but also hunt up even more detailed info based on where you went to school, what clubs or organizations you belong to, even what previous jobs you’ve had. That’s why you should avoid posting your resume to public job board websites, and reserve it for sending directly to potential employers.

Believe it or not, your resume can actually contain a lot of information that can help scammers connect the dots. They can get your name and address, of course, but also hunt up even more detailed info based on where you went to school, what clubs or organizations you belong to, even what previous jobs you’ve had. That’s why you should avoid posting your resume to public job board websites, and reserve it for sending directly to potential employers.

3. Watch out for scams

The second you type “looking for a job” (or some variation) into a search engine, the internet goes to work targeting you with more information. But beware, some of that information can actually be a scam. Watch out for emails that contain poor grammar, “too good to be true” job offers, offers for employment that require you to pay an application fee or background check fee, or emails that claim to come from a company or a manager but actually end with a personal email account domain, like yahoo.com or gmail.com.

4. Take a look at your social media

Social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter have certainly come back to haunt individuals during their job hunt process, and not just because a potential employer dug up some old spring break pictures or found some less-than-professional tweets. Those are cause for concern, of course, but your social media accounts can also be targeted by scammers who claim to have “found your resume online,” or “saw that you’re a recent graduate and would like to talk to you about a job.”

The chances of a legitimate job offer popping up in your Facebook messages from someone you’ve never heard of and who has no mutual friends are very, very slim. Social media can certainly be a big boost towards landing a job if you’re connected to someone who knows someone in the business, but they can also be a huge identity theft cliff.

5. Monitor your credit

Too many recent graduates are taken by surprise when they go to apply for their first real credit card or rent an apartment for their new jobs, only to discover that their identity has already been stolen and their credit rating has tanked. It’s good to start your career process with a fresh, in-depth look at your credit report, and then to keep up with that report every year. When your job hunt turns into a successful career, you’re going to need your credit even more; keep it secure by monitoring it closely and reporting any suspicious activity.


If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. 

Read next: I Have Bad Credit…Why Would an Identity Thief Bother?!

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