Graduation season is upon us — a time of great anticipation as new careers are launched. But with the prevalence of online job searches, it’s important for job seekers to safeguard their personal information from identity thieves.
Follow these five tips to protect your identity as you search for the perfect position:
1. Protect your Social Security number. Yes, your employer needs your Social Security number, but provide it once you’re hired. Leave it off your resume and job application forms. If an application asks for the information, leave it blank. If it’s an online application that won’t advance without the number, add all zeros. You may also go to the employer’s office and request a paper application, giving you the option to leave it blank.
2. Don’t post your home address online. If you post your resume on a website such as CareerBuilder or Monster, do not include your home address. This is another piece of the puzzle needed for identity theft. Include only your email and phone number — that’s all potential employers need to reach you.
3. Watch out for phishing emails. Any job search effort in 2014 includes having an updated LinkedIn profile. However, the site acknowledges that its good name has been used for phishing. LinkedIn offers this tip to avoid being scammed: If you receive an email purportedly from LinkedIn, don’t click on links. Place your cursor over the link to see the URL. This tip works for all emails and websites.
4. Check out a company before submitting a resume. Have you spotted a great ad on Craig’s List? Check out the company before submitting your personal info. Research the company online — even a startup should have a sophisticated website. If you’ve never heard of the business before and it doesn’t have a website, go to the physical address listed. No physical address or website? Move on to the next prospective company.
5. Don’t provide your bank account information. Imagine this scenario: You are contacted by a prospective employer who has seen your resume on a job website. The company asks for your bank account information to make sure it can transfer your paycheck into your account. You comply, only to find that your account has been drained. To avoid this scam Commonwealth Bank warns its customers “Do not provide bank account details to any prospective employer until you are satisfied with the bona fides of that employer and/or you have signed contracts of employment.”