As if finding a job in this challenging economy isn’t bad enough, now job seekers have to be on the lookout for identity theft scams. According to the Better Business Bureau of Central California, people who use job search sites such as CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed, Simply Hired, Craigslist, etc., need to be careful about the legitimacy of the job offer before providing personal information. The sheer number of job seekers using or uploading their resumes to these and other employment sites make them prime targets for identity thieves.
The blatant intent of the latest job search scam, says Blair Looney, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central California, is identity theft. The identity thief first emails a job seeker about an opening for a specific job that matches the job hunter’s qualifications. If the job seeker expresses interest, the scammer sends along a job application to be completed as part of the employment process. The application asks for the applicant’s social security number and driver’s license number, indicating they are necessary for a background check. In addition, the applicant is asked to provide a checking account number for direct deposit. Because the job application looks official, many assume it is legitimate. As Looney points out, “Most people are so enthusiastic and excited that they’re providing the information without checking the company out.”
Unemployed individuals are typically available and eager to start a new job immediately, all attributes of the psychology of identity theft. And that’s exactly what attracts scammers. “Whether they’re going to invade your bank account or impersonate you, once identity theft occurs it’s very difficult to slow it down,” Looney points out.
Employment agencies and recruiters warn job seekers to be cautious of unsolicited job offers. They also recommend conducting a thorough search on the company before providing any information and holding off on furnishing private, identifying information during the preliminary application process.