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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

March 26, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

ID thieves’ new favorite target: Job seekers

Are you putting your personal information at risk during your job search? 

It’s no secret that identity theft is highly prevalent. In fact, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network received more than 2 million complaints (excluding do-not-call) during 2013, with identity theft being the No. 1 complaint category. Criminals seem to get smarter every day and are finding new ways to steal people’s private information.

Of course the identity-theft story that recently made huge headlines was the Target security breach. In many ways, the breach served as a wake-up call for consumers who are often very liberal when sharing their personal information with their favorite retailers. Some shoppers remain skittish about shopping at their favorite stores.

But credit cards and financial accounts are not the only ways thieves are accessing critical personal data. Oftentimes job seekers put an incredible amount of personal information on the Internet in order to lure future employers. The problem is that all of that info is also available to savvy criminals.

Job scams are designed to take advantage of people looking for employment, and many times criminals go to extreme lengths to make sure the job appears legitimate. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are victims of job scams each year, including many highly educated people.

From phishing scams that steal your personal information to complex pyramid schemes or work-from-home scams that require a deposit for start-up costs, too often people fall victim to dishonest criminals – especially those who are unemployed and desperate for work.

What are the best ways to keep your personal information safe while searching for a new job? Here are five tips that can help:

1. Designate accounts solely for your job search
It’s wise to create email accounts that are only used for the purpose of your job search. Never use your personal or current work email. Not only will this help you keep your job search organized, it will help keep information unrelated to your job search safe from hackers.

2. Provide minimal personal information
Minimize personal information on cover letters and resumes, as this information could be sold to third parties or used for identity theft purposes. Do not include information such as your birth date, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank accounts, credit card info or your mother’s maiden name.

3. Research before applying
Before submitting a resume, research the company’s website and make sure the job you’re applying for is listed on the site. Keep in mind, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Try searching for the company’s name along with the word “scam” and see what results show up.

4. Protect your passwords
It goes without saying that you should never share your passwords for personal accounts, but to keep your information safe, you should take a few more proactive measures. Always keep track of all the places where you post your resume, and do not use the same user name and password on those sites as you do for your personal email.

5. Don’t overlook the details
Small details can provide clues as to whether a job posting is the real deal. Do the email address and website domain align? Does the information include a physical street address and phone number? If the email looks like a personal address with no additional location info, request more information before applying. Lastly, use LinkUp to search for jobs, as we only index real jobs directly from real company websites.

Want to know more about how to identify job scams? Check out our blog post for important red flags and other expert insight.