By Miriam Salpeter
The majority of job seekers are turning to the Internet to apply for positions, but have you thought about the security risks of entering your personal information—including your full name, Social Security number, address, and work details—online or on paper, and placing it in the hands of a stranger? What can you do to protect your identity?
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. If there is no company listed and you cannot confirm there is a real job, consider moving on to another position description.
Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of Experian's ProtectMyID, has the following suggestions to keep in mind when you file your online applications:
1. Never provide a Social Security number, or personal information such as date of birth, gender, or race when you apply for a position. Pam Dixon, founder and executive director of the World Privacy Forum, suggests you don't include any personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or your mother's maiden name when filling out an online application. (A company that asks for birth date, gender, race, and credit card numbers is probably not legitimate, as reputable employers would not ask for those details.)
If you decide to apply anyway, politely indicate that you'll be happy to provide your Social Security number upon being offered the job. This information is required for payroll and tax purposes, but doesn't need to be in the hands of dozens of potential employers.
One caveat: It's possible an employer may request a Social Security number to conduct credit and background checks before hiring you. Only provide this information once you know the company is legitimate, you have interviewed, and only if you're genuinely interested in working there.
2. If you drop your application off in person, don't just hand your information over to the first employee you see. Make sure you're giving your material to the manager or someone in human resources. It is easy to have your information and resume get lost in the shuffle or fall into the wrong hands.
Tips 3-4 and complete US News Article
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