Gone are the days when it was enough to pick up the newspaper to find a job listing, pay a visit to the business owner, get a spot interview, and potentially be working the very next day. Some jobs have over 100 applicants for them, and more employers every day are relying on electronic application methods to streamline the hiring process. There are also a large number of job seeker websites available, like Monster.com, where applicants can upload a resume and then apply to multiple jobs with just a couple clicks of the mouse.
With all of that information available for literally millions of people, identity thieves are attracted to these sites like a shark is attracted to blood in the water. Besides signing up for identity theft protection services from a professional company like LifeLock or Identity Guard, what else can you do to protect your identity while trying to find a job?
You Should Never Have to Pay to Apply for a Job
We all crack jokes about those Nigerian scams that talk about how you’ve won millions of dollars in an e-mail lottery or some long lost relative as left a large estate in your name and you need to send money for legal fees to collect it. Yet when it comes to job seeking, identity thieves get the financial information from hundreds of victims every day because they tell them they need to spend a few hundred dollars on specific software or need to pay for background checks up front before they consider a resume.
You never need to pay for anything up front when it comes to a job application. If a company tells you that you must pay for a background check to be considered for employment, ask if that cost can be put onto your first paycheck instead – after all, you are unemployed and need money for food, right? Before paying for anything, even as an independent contractor, make sure you have a solid employment agreement in place before releasing any payment. Then, if you are sure of a cost that is something you need to front, make sure that you don’t give out your financial account numbers. Get receipts for everything. Verify, Verify, Verify
An employer has sent you an e-mail saying that they found your resume online, that you look like an awesome person, and they would like to have you start a job next week. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Then, when you hand over your Social Security number to get your new job started, you never hear from them again. You’ve just lost the key to your identity in this scenario.
If you’ve never heard of a company, verify them. Go to their place of business if possible. Visit their website to look for scam signals, such as:
- fake contact information,
- cut and paste content,
- no customer service, or
- generic information that tells you nothing about what they do.
Utilize the resources that are available to you as well, such as the Better Business Bureau, to determine their legitimacy. Always ask questions!
Limit the Personal Information on Your Resume
A prospective employer from an online bank of resumes needs to know your physical location, some sort of contact information to get a hold of you, and your name. That’s really all you need to get the ball rolling with an online resume – if an employer is interested in you, then they will contact you through your chosen method to get additional information. Many applicants, however, overshare their personal information, with many thinking this gives them an advantage because it lets an employer know a little more about them.
What it does, however, is give identity thieves all the information they need to steal your identity. A good rule of thumb is to use your name, state, and e-mail address as personal information for an online resume. A city may sometimes be helpful, but remember – the more information you freely share, the more likely you are to have your identity stolen. If someone needs more information because they’re interested in you, they’ll ask for it. Don’t just hand out more information – it really doesn’t make you more attractive to the right kind of employers.
Despite the increase in reports of cyber bulling through Facebook and other social media sites, the number one cybercrime that is reported is by far auction fraud. In particular, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has reported that they have especially seen an increase in auction fraud related to international car auctioning.
An auction that is run is internationally is one of the key signs that you are about to be tricked into giving a fraudster your money. Most of the time when a buyer falls for these tricks, the money is unrecoverable. Only use trusted auction sites like Auctions Near Me or TopHatter.
In some cases, this can be devastating, but there is nothing that the authorities can do. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is made up of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
They reported that the reports of internet crime made up 62% of the all the complaints that were called in. Undelivered merchandise or payment, credit and debit fraud, check fraud, investment fraud, computer fraud, and confidence fraud were the other categories in which the IC3 received complaints.
This center also stated that the second thing people should watch out for besides international auctioneers is what is called a “second chance auctions.” Second chance auctions are auctions in which the auctioneer contacts the second runner up and tells them that the first buyer fell through and that they can now purchase the item.
Often, the auctioneer will request the buyer to transfer the money to them through an unreliable method. Buyers should only agree to transactions that take place through reliable methods such as an escrow service.
An escrow service is one through which the money is transferred to a third party who is trust worthy that will hold the money until the transaction is completed, upon which the money is given to the seller. The escrow service transfers the money based on pre-determined specifications.
There are several things you should keep in mind as you try to avoid online fraud. The first thing you should do is learn about online fraud.
Learn what kinds of things can give a fraudster away so that you can avoid giving your money to them. You will also want to learn how the auction works, what the rules are, what kind of regulations you must hold to as the buyer, and what the seller’s is responsible for.
These things are all vitally important to know before you bid. In addition, you will want to research the seller.
This is vital to avoiding fraud and you will do it thoroughly every time you consider a bid if you are serious about avoiding fraud. Sometimes the only information placed online by a bidder is his or her email address.
Send a message to the seller requesting more information. If the seller is not forthcoming, do not place a bid as the seller is almost for sure a fraudster.
If the seller happens to be a business, look up the business on the Better Business Bureau. In addition to reviewing the personal information on the seller, you should read the reviews on the seller.
If there are not very many reviews, even if the reviews are good, you probably will want to find another place to purchase the goods. The seller should have long history with 95% positive reviews for you to trust him or her enough to make the purchase.
Remember that even with these precautions, a fraudster can still manipulate the review system on occasion. Be wary and watch out for other signs that you are deal with a fraudster.
Next, you will want to check and see what kind of payment the seller is asking for. Remember that if it is not a reliable, traceable way of payment, you will want to find another way to make the purchase.
You will also want to look at the auction’s policies. Learn what the auction site does when problems arise and warranties are requested.
It is also good to know what their policy is on delivery times, exchanges, and defective merchandise. By the time you are done you should also have a thorough understanding of how shipping and delivery works and how much it costs.
The costs of shipping and delivery are often expensive and this cost is often a surprise to buyers. Do not let this cost be a surprise to you.
Take a proactive approach to keeping your identity safe from fraud, on and offline. Read who we ranked as the top credit monitoring services this year and sign up for free 30 day identity monitoring & protection. Get free alerts when fraud or suspicious activity is detected so you can take action
Ironically, the new credit card security chips, which are supposed to keep your information even more secure from hackers and data breaches, has driven scammers to come up with new (& old) angles to steal your personal information. While we all may be just a little safer using our cards at retail stores, criminals are using phishing emails which appear to be from legitimate banks. The company logos, addresses and information all appear to be real. The messages read to the effect, “Your card is on the way, but you need to update some information before you can start using it”.
They then ask you for your account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information that you definitely do not want to give out. Don’t go for it!
Do not reply to the email.
Do not click on any links within the email
Your bank or credit card company will never ask you for this kind of information via email. Keep your account numbers and online passwords secure and never give them to anyone you can’t 100% verify their identity.
This type of scam has been going on since the beginning of the internet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still an effective tool for identity thieves. Stay aware. Report any suspicious emails like this to your financial institutions immediately. If you believe you’ve been a victim of one of these scams, immediately check your credit report and monitor your credit to ensure you haven’t had more information stolen than just your account numbers.