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How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft While Job Hunting

Searching for a job can be exciting, but a job hunt comes with risks. That can include the threat of identity theft and fraud.

Here are five ways to help protect your personal information as you pursue a career move.

1. Leave your home address off your resume

It’s common for job seekers to apply for jobs online. But do you know who’s hiring? Sometimes it’s unclear or impossible to tell. That’s one reason it’s a good idea to leave your home address off your resume. Consider using a post office box for your search or offering just an email address. Another safety measure? It could be smart to set up an email address just for your job search. Make sure the email address and email signature doesn’t include a lot of personally identifiable information. Also, create a unique and complex password for your email account.

2. Guard your Social Security number

There’s probably no good reason why an employer needs your Social Security number when you apply for a job. So never include it on applications. You may need to supply your Social Security number if you've accepted a job offer, and the employer wants to run a background check. In that case, be sure the company that made the offer is legitimate. Also make sure the person you’re dealing with is an employee at the company. Requests for information such as your driver's license number and passport number can also be red flags.

3. Use privacy setting on job sites

Some online job sites have privacy settings. These may allow you to limit the number of views your resume receives or to hide certain identifying information, such as your contact details and current employer. The websites may also allow employers to contact job applicants through a confidential email address.

4. Don't provide links to personal social media accounts

Providing a link to your Twitter page or Facebook profile could be an easy way to tip off an identity thief to your location and personal information. In general, it's smart to clean up social media accounts so they don't display too much personal information.

5. Know how to spot a scam

When job listings seem too good to be true, it's often a signal that something is amiss. Beware of job postings that promise a much higher income than a similar position usually offer. Be careful about work-from-home gigs that sound overly lucrative. When in doubt, it’s a good idea not to apply, because you just don't know who will be receiving your application. It’s always smart to do your research and due diligence to make sure the companies and positions you are applying for are legitimate.

Editor’s note: This content was lightly edited and updated on Feb. 21, 2018.

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