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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

July 17, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Brandjacking: The new generation of corporate identity theft

shutterstock_140282785 (1)Every two seconds an American becomes a victim of identity theft. While personal ID protection remains top of mind, there’s another threatening aspect of identity fraud: brandjacking.

We all know companies spend countless hours and invest a lot of money to develop a brand. It’s estimated that U.S. brand value accounts for nearly 75 percent of business value, so corporate identity theft is no joking matter.

Brandjacking is quickly becoming a common term; it’s when a company’s name, logo and reputation are used without permission in order to benefit someone else. This isn’t just an issue for the company, but also a major issue for job seekers, who often use job search engines to find open positions. Criminals, knowing there is a huge audience of people looking for employment, are posting false ads and openings in order to obtain personal information from job seekers. This type of identity theft hurts the brand and the end user, too, by abusing what should be private information.

How rampant is this problem? It only takes a few seconds to find scam listings via a simple Google search. Just search the name of a major company with the term “jobs” after it. What might be even more disturbing is these scams flourish on specialty job search aggregators like SimplyHired, CareerBuilder and Indeed.

Too often people search for jobs online and apply for positions they think are posted by a specific company, when in fact it has been posted by a lead-generation site maliciously trying to gather their personal information. They sell that information and make money off it, therefore violating the person’s privacy and the brand’s integrity. Even tech-savvy job seekers are being duped because criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated.

Bottom line: Brandjacking is trademark infringement. Taking an offensive-minded approach to reduce the unauthorized use of your brand is critical to protect it. Here are five tips for corporations looking to combat brandjacking and protect job seekers:

1. Encourage applicants to apply for open jobs directly on the company website where their information will be obtained and processed safely and securely.

2. Register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. When mentioning your brand in job postings, use the trademark symbol:®.

3. Conduct ongoing monitoring of brand identity misuse. When violations are found, enforce your trademark and address any trademark infringements. Take legal action when necessary.

4. Warn job seekers of invalid/scam sites that are using your brand in an unauthorized manner. You can post this warning in the careers section on the corporate website.

5. Only advertise on sites like LinkUp where job seekers find openings and click through to apply directly on the company website. LinkUp has a steadfast commitment to protect employer brands. If you choose to advertise on sites that accept revenue from fraudulent listings, you risk tarnishing your brand’s reputation and reducing the talent pool from which you can tap to fill jobs.