Looking For a Job? Don’t Put Yourself in a Hole by Falling Victim to a Job Scam

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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.  So if you’re currently in the market for new employment, here are some of the dangers you should be aware of 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.

As part of the interview process, you will need to submit a resume to a variety of different people.  While it is a good idea to be thorough in your resume creation and submission, remember that not all those who will see your resume are legitimate employers or even law abiding citizens.  Generally speaking it is NEVER a good idea to include personally sensitive information such as a driver’s license number, Social Security Number, or Tax Id numbers.  Avoid listing personal information of a non-financial nature that isn’t necessary for the employer to have, like your marital status, your age, or your gender.

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 based on resume or application information.  Once a potential employer has responded to your resume indicating an interest in you, that does not end your need to be wary of overexposure.  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 in doing that.  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 intervening time, contact the company (look it up on the Internet) and ask the Human Resources Department to find out if that person actually works there.  Remember, if an email address does not contain the domain name of the company is more likely fraudulent than fact.  Keep in mind that normally, companies do not do background checks on individuals they have not met. The request for a SSN for that purpose is suspect.   Avoid companies that pay only in cash or money orders. That is not normal protocol.

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.

During the screening process, 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. Equifax 800-525-6285, Experian 888-397-3742, TransUnion 800-680-7289.  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 (www.bbbonline.com ) 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 (www.ftc.gov )
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Nikki Junker

Nikki Junker is Social Media Coordinator and Victim Advisor at The Identity Theft Resource Center. She specializes in Identity Theft on social networks and smartphones. She enjoys working one on one with victims of identity theft as well as researching and writing about preventative measures for consumers.