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Five Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft on Job Applications

Calling all media moguls in the making! (Yes, that would be you.) As you’re looking for a job, try not to get too excited and ditch common sense, especially when it comes to applying online.

That is, people may be preying on breaches of security as you enter your personal information such as your social security number, full name, address, and work details.

1. Don’t apply to blind ads. According to a piece on U.S. News & World Report, Miriam Salpeter writes, “The first thing you can do to protect yourself is avoid applying for bogus jobs. How? Don’t apply to blind ads and unnamed companies or recruiters.”

So, if a company isn’t listed and it’s shady as to whether or not a real job is available for hire, move on.

2. Use reputable job boards. For instance, Job-Hunt.org offers criteria to help job seekers evaluate boards. In the piece, Salpeter points out, “Top tips include making sure you know who owns the job site, Googling the site’s name, and identifying who has access to the information you include. There should be a comprehensive privacy policy detailed on the site. If there isn’t a policy, assume your information might not be in good hands.”

3. Never provide a Social Security number or personal information such as your date of birth, gender or race. Plus, this may sound basic but it’s worth repeating — never include credit card numbers, bank account information or your mother’s maiden name. Furthermore a company that asks for this type of information is most likely fraudulent. Companies don’t need this information in order to enter your data into an applicant tracking system.

4. Delay providing information. So, what if a company actually seems legitimate and they have a real job opportunity? Specify you’ll be happy to provide your Social Security number once the job has been offered. This information is necessary for getting you onto payroll and for tax purposes, too but during the interview process it’s technically not necessary. That said, the SSN may be a requirement if the background check is conducted before the hiring process is complete (some companies conduct them prior to hiring; others conduct them afterward.) So, in that case use your judgment as Salpeter reminds us: “Only provide this information once you know the company is legitimate, you have interviewed, and only if you’re genuinely interested in working there.”

5. Ensure an online application is secure. When you’re completing an application online, look for the URL to start with “https” or look for a small lock icon in the browser.

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