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job application scam

If you’re applying for a job, you’re probably doing it online, either by completing an online job application form or by sending your resume and cover letter via email. While the job application process goes smoothly much of the time, there have been incidents of identity theft from online job applications. Protect your identity by never putting these four things in your online job application and brushing up on identity theft 101 to protect yourself if anything does go wrong.

4 things to never put in your job applications

A prospective employer will be interested in your work history, your education and your goals. By and large, prospective employers will not ask for detailed personal information at this stage. If you’re ever asked for the following four things, it’s a definite red flag and you should not apply to the position:

  • Social security number — While you may have to give your social security card when hired, you should not be asked to provide this on a job application. Never write out your social security number on your resume, in an email or on an online application form.
  • Driver’s license number — You may be asked whether you have a valid driver’s license, particularly if driving is one of your job duties. However, in the application you should not be asked to provide your driver’s license number.
  • Credit card number — Your personal finances, including your credit cards, are not your employer’s business. A reputable employer will never ask for a credit card number.
  • Application fee — While you can expect to pay an application fee when applying for an education program, professional organization or affiliation, you should never be asked to pay a job application fee, wire money or perform any other financial transactions.

Other warning signs

Along with the danger signs above, be on the look out for these signs that something is wrong:

  • Overemphasis on finances — If the job ad lacks details but mentions the amazing salary, it’s likely a fake.
  • Inadequate business information — A job ad without a company address, point person or website might be false, because any reputable job would provide that information so job seekers can research the company before an interview.
  • Non-corporate email address — If you’re applying for a job at a reputable company with its own domain name, you should only be corresponding with [email protected] and never with [email protected]

Identity theft basics: What to do if something goes wrong

As a best practice, keep your antivirus software up to date so that you’ll receive alerts if spyware or malware is detected on your computer, notes Identity Theft 101. If you have concerns about a job ad before you apply, reach out to a company HR representative that you can locate from the official website. If concerns come afterward, as Stamford Advocate’s John Nickerson reports, contact local police to alert them to any potential fraud, check any bank or credit card statements and set up alerts on your identity. This way, you will receive immediate notice should you be the victim of identity theft and can take action to safeguard your finances.

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