Fact Sheet 121
Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Job Seekers
This guide covers:
- Items that do not belong on a resume
- Answering ads on the Internet or newspaper
While no one person can completely prevent identity theft from occurring, there are things we can do to minimize our exposure.
During the search for a new employment, job seekers may be at a slightly higher level of risk to identity theft. This fact sheet is designed to help you become aware of potential problem areas so that you can avoid them.
Most on-line resume posting sites have a “Be Safe” section. Read it carefully. If you see any questionable job postings immediately report it to that site. If you are approached by a scam or suspect a scam in progress, also immediately report it to that posting site.
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Date of birth (DOB)
- EIN (taxpayer ID number if you use that as an alternate to the SSN)
- Driver’s license number
- Marital status
- Professional license number
- The reason why you left a past employer
- Disabilities – unless the job specifies a request to describe any physical limitations, you should not offer this information up front
- Any of the above information can be provided to an interested employer in person upon request. Keep in mind, a resume only opens the door to an interview. Jobs are not offered solely based on resume or application information.
- If they ask you to write your SSN on your resume or cover letter, ask why it is being requested and explain that you are not comfortable with the request.
- If someone calls you, and during the telephone interview asks for your SSN, do not give it out. Instead, tell them that you need to look it up and that you will call that person back with the number.
- In the meanwhile, contact the company (look it up on the Internet) and ask the Human Resources Department to verify the interviewer actually works for the company and whether they are supposed to be asking for SSNs.
- A tip: if an email address does not contain the domain name of the company, it is potentially fraudulent.
- A tip: if the fax number given or phone number given is not in the same area code as the corporate number, this may be a scam artist.
- Normally, companies do not do background checks on individuals they have not met. The request for a SSN for that purpose is suspect.
- Be careful about applying for work with a company whose only office seems to be outside of the United States. If you cannot check them out easily with a Yahoo or Google search, you may want to look for a job elsewhere.
- Avoid companies that pay only in cash or money orders. That is not normal protocol.
Scams: Please see ITRC’s Scams & Alerts
- Money transfer jobs: This scam begins with a company asking you to open a banking or checking account in your name. You are then sent what appear to be cashier’s checks, bank checks or money orders from “customers” to deposit. You may also be told to forward the online code for that account so the company can make withdrawals. The other scam is for you to make withdrawals and send a portion of it to the “hiring company.” You are paid a commission for your time.
- Most often these are companies that claim they are outside of the United States. Avoid these jobs as they almost always are fronts for illegal activities and can result in possible criminal charges against you.
- Courier services: It is best to check out the hiring company with both the Better Business Bureau and with either the state or federal Attorney General’s Office to confirm that they are legitimate. Make sure you see exactly what you will be carrying and that you don’t end up getting arrested for trafficking stolen or illegal goods.
- Avoid companies that ask if you have a bank account that you can use for their activities. A legitimate company will have its own bank account or will be able to open one itself. You should not be using your SSN to open an account for any company other than your own or one in which you act as the CFO.
- Avoid companies that ask you to use your SSN to open a credit card for that company.
- Use an attorney to set up a firm business contract describing all duties and obligations with anyone you meet via the Internet who wishes to co-own a business with you. This is a stranger and legal documents must be involved to protect the interests of both parties.
ITRC recommends that you do not fill in the sections asking for your driver’s license number or SSN. Instead, place a note saying “see below.” In the blank section at the bottom of the paper, write “Prefer to provide this information during the interview.” If asked, you can tell them that due to the explosive growth of this crime, you prefer not to include this sensitive information on forms. The reality is that this application may not be safely stored or may be thrown in the trash exposing you to possible identity theft.
- Companies might want to do a background check of you- financial and criminal. In California, you generally have the right to see the information, provided it was not first-hand interviews (i.e. law enforcement checks). Some victims of identity theft find out they are victims during this process. If possible, ask to see the results of any background checks done on you so that you can verify their accuracy.
- If you find an error in your report, let the HR department know immediately. Ask for a photocopy of the report and tell them that this is either fraudulent or a clerical error. Ask for a few days to investigate the problem.
- If the error/fraudulent records are in your credit history, you automatically qualify for a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies.
- If the error is in a criminal background check, you need to contact the agency that reported the outstanding warrant and find out what is going on. Please contact the ITRC to help you or if you have any questions.
When in doubt, you can check out a potential employer in many ways. One quick manner would be to look at the company website and verify its address, phone number and history.
- The Better Business Bureau keeps a log of complaints about companies.
- State Attorneys General also maintain files about companies as does the U.S. Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.