Online Resume Could Result in ID Theft
During this time of slow economic growth, countless people have joined the ranks of the unemployed (or the ranks of those in danger of becoming unemployed). So it’s no surprise that online job searching sites like Monster, Career Builder and others like them have been inundated with thousands of new people looking for work. Posting your resume online is a quick way to get your information in front of hundreds of potential employers. But is it safe? Identity theft experts are beginning to wonder the same thing.
The answer lies in how much personal information you put in your resume. And information you may think is innocent enough (first and last name, home address, home telephone number, etc…) probably isn’t. Advanced identity thieves have begun mining online resume sites pilfering information from innocent people who were simply looking for a new job. Sometimes one hot fragment of information from a resume is all they need to look elsewhere—and find—the other pieces of an identity worth stealing. For instance, if they know where you live they can start rummaging through your trash or stealing your mail. If they know where you used to work, they can call your former employer posing as a potential new employer who is checking references and can possibly garner helpful information about you that way. Even something as simple as your home telephone number might be all they need to look you up in a public records database.
Crafting an Internet Savvy Resume
1. Use only your first initial and last name on public resumes. If you feel funny withholding your full name on a resume, you can write “Additional information is withheld for safety reasons and is available upon request.” Most employers will respect that, and they will contact you for more information if something on your resume really grabs them. If you’ve been married, or previously worked under a different name, don’t disclose that on your public resume. You can provide that information in an interview at a later time if necessary. Using only your first initial and last name gives you an extra layer of identity protection against thieves who probably won’t take the time to discern which “J. Smith” the resume really belongs to.
2. Create a temporary email address that doesn’t disclose your full name and can be easily disabled at a later time. Free internet accounts with companies like hotmail, yahoo, gmail and others like them, make it easy for you to setup a temporary account solely for job searching purposes. For the sake of uniformity, and professionalism, you should use your first initial and last name if possible instead of some cutesy name or a nickname friends or family may have given you. By using a temporary email address like this you aren’t giving away any personal information about yourself like a current employer or which internet provider services the neighborhood in which you live. Identity thieves aren’t afraid to go on a hunt if they think it might pay off, so make sure you leave them with nothing but dead ends.
3. Remain general in your education and past work experience sections. Generally, these are the parts of a resume where you really want to sell yourself. And you still can, but use caution. List the degree you received (BA in Business Management, etc…) and if you feel it is absolutely necessary you can list your university. But don’t include the year you graduated. This will make it too easy for identity thieves to try to search university records and find out more about you. Try using a functional resume format where you list all of your experience without giving out the name of all of the companies you previously worked for. Again, potential employers will contact you with questions if they want more specific information. If you specify that you are withholding information for safety reasons, they won’t think it’s suspicious that you aren’t being more specific.
4. List your cell phone number or a temporary prepaid cell phone number instead of your home phone number. Currently, there is no public records database for cell phone numbers, so identity thieves can’t pull your cell phone number off of a resume and find out your name, address or anything else about you. To prevent phone fraud you should not have your number listed. But, if your home telephone number is listed, and you use that, thieves can use that as an entry point into learning a lot more about you. If you don’t want to give out your personal cell phone number, purchase a prepaid cell phone with a limited number of minutes and use it only for job searching purposes.
5. Never copy and paste your real resume into a form on a company or resume posting website. Your real resume—the one that contains a lot more personal information about you—should never be submitted through an automated form. Submitting information through these unencrypted channels to non-specific recipients creates numerous opportunities for your information to fall into the wrong hands. If you must submit a resume this way, make sure you send only your public resume that contains limited information about you. If a company requests to see your full resume, ask if you can email it directly to the personal email address of someone in the Human Resources department or fax it to a private line. Then call to confirm it was received by the correct person.
Experienced identity thieves won’t simply read your resume and move on. If they see something that appeals to them, or they think you may be an easy or worthwhile target, they may contact you posing as a potential employer. Beware of these potential traps and others like them.
1. Do not agree to give out any additional information for a “background check” until you have had an in person interview. Some identity thieves will contact current job hunters posing as legitimate companies offering lucrative, high management positions. Because of the nature of these positions, they tell people, a background check must be completed before a first interview can take place. They will then send a form—or initiate a phone call—where they want you to provide information like your social security number, your mother’s maiden name, and in some cases even bank account information. If they are really bold, thieves will even ask for a potential four digit security password. They do this assuming people use the same passwords for all accounts, and are hoping to be given the pin code to any bank accounts. These thieves play on the desperation people feel when they are looking for new jobs, and they try to make it seem urgent and important for you to disclose this information. Kindly, but firmly, tell anyone who asks for this kind of information that you aren’t comfortable disclosing this type of information until a first interview has been conducted in person. If they press you, it’s a strong sign that it’s just a scam and you should alert the resume posting company and move on.
2. Never give a potential employer your bank account numbers. The only time an employer should be privy to any bank account info is when you are currently employed by them and you are enrolling in a direct deposit plan. There is no other reason an employer would ever legitimately need to know your personal bank account information. And employers never need to know any passwords, and generally they don’t need to know your mother’s maiden name either. Your social security number must be given for payroll purposes, but again, only do that once you have met and interviewed with a company and you are sure they are legitimate.
3. Be suspicious of potential employers who start asking for personal information without scheduling an interview. Avoid giving out personal information to companies you don’t know much about. Even if someone says he or she is from a legitimate company that is interested in hiring you, don’t be quick to give out personal information to people who seem hesitant to schedule an interview or to meet you in person. Many online resume scams only operate for a few weeks, and once several people have been defrauded job postings are taken down and phone numbers are disconnected and thieves disappear. Make sure you visit a company in person and have a good feeling about them before you begin divulging your personal information.
Although some of the information in this article might instill panic in you, be assured that it can still be safe to post your resume online. Just make sure you do it cautiously, and with limited information. Keep the safety of your identity in the forefront of your mind as you conduct job searches and you will make wiser decisions. Education is half the battle when it comes to identity theft. Now that you are aware of identity theft through online resumes, you are one step closer to insuring that you don’t become a victim. It’s your identity, do everything you can to make sure someone else doesn’t use it against you.