Identity Thieves While Job-searching

By: Teena Rose

Going up against identity thieves is like playing a very intense game of chess. A player makes a move, but not before thinking of the opponent’s potential moves. It resembles an intense game of cat and mouse, where there can be only one winner.

Avoiding identity theft with outdated technologies can make even the most passive jobseeker cringe with fear. Technology isn’t the only cause, however. Companies that once monitored employees for stealing and padding timecards are now charged with observing the personal information of clients from their own employees. Add international outsourcing to the mix, and we have the potential mix for disaster.

What does all this have to do with your job-search? Conducting a job search using the Internet has definitely transformed how jobseekers contact hiring companies. The availability of copying and pasting a text version resume into a form at a company’s website has laid the foundation for an easier and more convenient process. No longer does a jobseeker need to spend hours with the traditional method of printing and mailing his resume to countless recipients.

With the Internet’s convenience, a breeding ground for scam artists continues to grow each year as well. Identity thefts have increased to an overwhelming 10 million cases per year, and many of them are the result of phishing — not surprisingly, the employment industry is under attack as well.

Phishing is an attempt to extract personal information through what appears to be authentic emails. If you are job searching, an email from a seemingly interested recruiter, for example, may not raise a red flag with you. You may think that the contact person and company listed are legitimate, yet looks can be deceiving. Knowing what to look for and how to spot fraud (or potential areas for abuse) can be the best deterrent to ensuring you have a safe experience while conducting your job search.

First, be leery of out-of-the-blue employment inquiries. Scammers and spammers follow the same patterns. Mass emails are sent to an enormous list of recipients.

Not everyone on the “hit list" is searching for a new job; however, only a small number of people need to be convinced, or tricked into believing, the email is authentic in order for the scam to be deemed successful. Ask yourself a series of questions: Did you send your resume to this company? Visit the company’s website (type the web address into your browser, avoid clicking the link in the email); upon further examination, are they reputable? How did they hear about you? Call the company if necessary. Always proceed with caution when you receive a cold-contact email from someone.

Second, avoid responding to requests for personal information, such as a social security or credit card number. Let’s say you receive an email from what appears to be a well-known job bank. The email states that your account needs your contact and payment information to be updated in order for service renewal. You click on the link and you’re taken to a page that looks, feels, and “smells" right. You proceed by submitting the requested information.

The link appeared safe, but you were taken to a site designed to defraud you. Reputable companies will rarely ask for personal information via email so examine every incoming email for validity.

Third, when purchasing from an online business, ensure information is encrypted upon hitting submit. Encryption, in short, ensures the private information you submit online is kept safe. When at your browser, you can recognize an encrypted form when the root URL starts with “https:" instead of “http:" or seeing the padlock present in the bottom right corner of your screen. Purchasing from companies having added security measures in place can ensure your private information avoids the hands of ill-willed people.

Fourth, read and understand the privacy policy of sites you patron. The Better Business Bureau possesses a strict policy for members who do business online. A privacy statement must be displayed on the company’s website, no exceptions. High business practices are a necessity for maintaining the trust of online buyers; and the BBB understands the critical importance of trust among consumers.

A privacy statement outlines what type of customer information is collected and how it’s used. Alliances and partnerships, for example, arrange for Company A to sell or pass on client information to Company B. The information transferred or sold could be basic, like name and email address, or far more in-depth like name, address, social security number, and phone number. No matter how basic or detailed the information, the company must have the logistics spelled out in their privacy policy.

Last, studies have shown that an estimated 80% of online fraud goes unreported. Go “against the grain" and fall into the minority of 20%. If the proper authorities aren’t aware of the magnitude of fraud that actually exists on the Internet, then getting the much-needed funds to battle the problem will take more time. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (ifccfbi.gov) has an online complaint feature for individuals to report phishing attacks. The IFCC report process requires basic information, including information on the perpetrator and type of fraud.

In addition to filing a complaint, forward the fraudulent email to the legitimate company. Phishing is smearing the good names of countless companies, and notifying the company about the scam can also help the fight. Companies brought onboard will ensure well-rounded efforts to this epidemic.

Avoid giving your information out freely. Whether you’re at the end of a phishing attack or the job application requires more information than you’re willing to provide, proceed with caution. Much like you’ll analyze job opportunities; intensely examine each person who receives your personal information. With safe online practicesArticle Search, you’ll get the best return from your job-search efforts — instead of spending hours filing a police report and calling credit bureaus and credit card companies.

Careers and Job Hunting
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