The unfortunate reality for many jobseekers is that scammers exist, and they actively try to steal your data to gain a financial advantage. A job application is full of personal information, including name, address, and even social security number. If this information falls into the wrong hands, your identity could be stolen. When you hunt for jobs you need to be smart about it. Make sure the jobs you apply for are legitimate and always research to make sure you are doing everything right. As a general rule of thumb, if you are providing sensitive information, it needs to be through a legitimate company website. If not, find other opportunities.
If you are unaware of the types of job scams that exist around the industry it’s much easier to fall victim. Keep yourself informed. Usually you don’t need to worry if you are applying directly through a company website, but if you find a listing through craigslist or another personal ad, make sure the application links directly to a company URL. Some scammers will disguise data collection schemes with a job application URL that appears legitimate, but is not. Your information might end up in a database, and then gets sold on the black market. Another common scam is the “personal assistant” claim. They take advantage of potential jobseekers by promising lofty wages and short hours. After providing your information, within a few days the jobseeker receives a cashier’s check in the mail, with instructions to cash it and mail a portion of the money overseas. However, the check is fake, and once the bank realizes the mistake it’s usually too late. Then there’s the issue of you passing a fake check to a bank, which is a federal offense. There are certainly other scams out there, and you need to proceed with caution during the job application process so you don’t fall victim. As a general rule of thumb, the listings you need to look out for are those with titles similar to the following: work from home, personal assistant, mystery shopper, and sales.
Protecting Your Data
Jobseekers are some of the most vulnerable on the internet, because they are motivated to find jobs and will readily provide sensitive personal data to accomplish this task. It’s easy to lose focus and apply for the wrong job—and if it’s a scam, you could potentially fall victim to identify theft. The first step in protecting your data is choosing job opportunities wisely. Only apply to legitimate jobs, and find the opportunities directly through the company’s website. Most legitimate organizations will have a company website with all current job opportunities. There are exceptions to this rule, but if you find opportunities through craigslist or other related websites, hold off on providing any sensitive information until you speak with a representative from the organization. Also consider keeping your computer up to date with the most current anti-virus and firewall software, because it’s possible for hackers to access your personal information directly. This will prevent that from happening.
Job hunting should be a full time gig for the unemployed worker. Everyone has bills to pay, and there are always plenty of opportunities available for the right candidates. With that being said, you need to be careful with your personal information, because if it falls into the wrong hands, it could turn your life upside down. Be smart and protect your information!