How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft While Job Hunting

Searching for a job is surely exciting, but it's almost always also a taxing process. New graduates are often found scrambling for the first offer before student loans set in, and the employed looking for new opportunities do so in fear of their current employer finding out. But there's a greater concern that's looming over today's job hunt: the threat of identity theft and fraud.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to protect your personal information as you search for the perfect career move.

1. Don't put your home address on your resume

In today's digital age, more job seekers are applying to jobs online, sometimes without even knowing which company is hiring. As a first defense, job seekers should refrain from including their home address on their resumes. Career experts suggest using a post office box for the duration of your search, while others say that an email address should suffice. To go the extra mile, it could also be wise to set up an email address strictly for your job search. This email shouldn't include too much identifying information and shouldn't be used for any other online account logins.

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2. Don't hand out your Social Security number really is no need for an employer to ask for your Social Security number at the start of applying for a job, so job seekers should never include it on applications. The only situation in which you should provide your Social Security number is if you've already been hired and have accepted an offer, and the employer has expressed the need to run a background check. Even then, be sure the company that provided the offer is legitimate and that the person you are dealing with is in fact an employee at the designated company. Requests for information such as your driver's license number and passport number are also red flags.

3. Use privacy setting on job sites

Sites like have privacy settings that allow users to limit the amount of views their resumes receive or to hide some identifying information, such as your contact information and current employer. It also allows 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 whereabouts and personal information. In fact, it's smart to clean up all social media accounts so they don't display too much identifying information, especially while you're on the lookout for a new job.

5. Know how to spot a scam

When job offers seem too good to be true, it's usually a sign that something suspicious is brewing. Beware of job postings that promise a much higher income than your position usually offers, or work-from-home gigs that seem unrealistic. When in doubt, don't apply, because you just don't know who is on the receiving end. In addition, always do your research and due diligence to be sure the companies and positions you are applying for are legitimate.

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