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Protecting Privacy during Job Search: How NOT to Fall Victim to Online Fraud or Identity Theft
December 13th, 2009 by Andrew Kucheriavy  Posted in Job Search, Most Popular, Networking
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job_search_protect_privacyIn today’s world we all have to be careful of identity theft and fraud on the Internet.  Most people already know how to protect their identities online:  from online shopping to social networks, many take steps not to become victims of identity theft or online fraud.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of online job search.  Driven by their job search instincts, many job seekers post their resumes left and right and without much through about what might happen to their private information.

Consider this: your resume contains ALL your private information: your name, your e-mail address, your home address, your phone number, your employment history, and much more.  Imagine what might happen if this information ends up in the wrong hands.  The least of your problems could be your e-mail address being used to send you spam advertisements or your phone number ending up on telemarketers’ lists.

Unfortunately, it could get a lot worse. Identity thieves and fraudsters may already have some of your information (most of it readily available online) but compiling all of it from multiple sources could be a challenge.  Obtaining your resume makes it much easier for identity thieves to pose as you online. In fact, there have been cases where armed with a stolen credit card number, thieves would specifically search for a victim’s resume to get their correct billing address.

So what can you do to protect your identity?  After all, you do want to distribute your resume online to improve your chances of getting a job but how can you do it safely?  To help with that we’ve consulted multiple experts to put together this list:

 

10 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Privacy during Job Search:

1. Be careful where you post your resume.  Make sure that the website is a well-established reputable job site with positive reviews.  Note, that even the largest job websites have had problems protecting their users’ information and they also get targeted more by criminals. In fact, many smaller job websites have a much better track record of protecting job seekers’ privacy.

2. Make sure you understand what each website intends to do with your resume. Read the Privacy Policy and the Terms of Use statements on the website. Some websites make it easier for you, for example Resumark.com has a Privacy Pledge that spells out in simple terms how we protect your privacy.

3. Do not post your resume unless the website explicitly states that it will not sell your resume to spammers, telemarketers, or any third parties not related to your job search.  In fact, some of the largest job websites have been doing just that.  Also, check if the website has any partnerships or associations with other websites where your resume may end up. You want to make sure you are in control over your resume at all times.

4. Check that the website allows you to remove your resume at any time and doesn’t retain its copies indefinitely.  If you ever need to remove your resume, it could be a big challenge with some job websites.

job_search_protect_identity5. Do not post your resume on websites that publish it openly without any mechanisms in place to protect your privacy.  In fact, many websites promise you better visibility for your resume by marketing it through social networks and search engines. Make sure it is done safely and your private information is protected.  For example, Resumark.com protects your identity by blocking out your private contact information when your resume is shown to potential employers. Only verified employers have access to that information.

6. Make sure that the job website screens or verifies employers who get to access your resume.  You don’t want your resume to be accessed by anyone without someone checking to see that they are who they say they are. Some job websites may also allow you to block specific users or companies from seeing your resume. For example you may want to block out your current boss or your employer from accessing your resume.

7. Consider not including your complete mailing address on your resume or use a P.O. Box.  In the old days, all correspondence was sent through snail mail and having a mailing address on your resume was of utmost importance.  It is not the case today.  In fact, most employers won’t even need your full mailing address until later so if you want to protect your home address, putting a city, state and a zip code on your resume may be sufficient in the most cases.

8. Consider using a separate e-mail address for your job search and check it regularly. This ensures that you won’t miss an important e-mail from a potential employer.  You may also be unpleasantly surprised that as soon as you start your job search you may start seeing some spam sent to this mailbox.  Unfortunately, some job websites do sell your information to spammers – this is another reason to keep these e-mails separate.

9. Make sure that the website has their contact information published and accessible in case you have privacy concerns or need to get in touch with them. We don’t recommend posting your resume on websites that do not list their own phone numbers with a live person you can talk to in case of a problem or a concern.

10. Keep track of where you post your resume. Always maintain a list of the websites where you post your resume (along with their URLs, login information and other information you need to quickly access the account, in case you decide to pull the resume off a website)

We really hope that this article will help you be safe during your job search.  Have you had any of the similar experience described in this article? Do you have any other advice for job seekers? Please share them with our readers by leaving comments below:
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  • It is sad to know that fraudulent people have successfully made their way even to job searches. What seems to be an innocent and plain job application now poses danger to people since they do actually submit personal information in search for work. Aside from having extra, unused copies of your application shredded to avoid identity theft, you may follow the given instructions here so that you can gain more confidence - knowing that your information is safe.

  • Maninder Kaur

    I give my consent that i also send my contact information on most of the websites.I am also uncomfortable to give my SSN number but some time if you do not give your SSN info then your job application is not accepted by the employer and in my opinion it does not make any sense when you are just applying for the job and they are asking for your SSN info that's ridiculous. I think employers should not ask for the SSN info unless they are confirmed that they are hiring that person.

  • Marisa Naujokas

    And what about the issue of SSN with recruiters? I am uncomfortable with handing out my SSN, but they claim they need it for a background check. Can't they do a background check with DL number only? I'm okay with giving my SSN to my future employer once an employment agreement is in place, but I am uncomfortable handing it out before then.

  • ferd dong

    Agreed! It's difficult to protect your contact information while trying to find a job. I do send full contact information directly to companies and recruiters that I know and trust, while only providing an e-mail address to others. And I also use a separate e-mail account for resumes and job shopping. Although many sites promise not to sell your information or to keep it private for only credible employers, I find that I still get lots of spam on that e-mail account. I try to track how well resume hosting sites perform, by making small changes to resumes that I post so I can tell which site generated hits. That helps show what sites are causing spam, and I delete my resume from them. Although I can't do much about cached information, at least I can minimize damage by deactivating.

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