With Job Scams on the Rise, IdentityHawk Offers Identity Protection Tips in Honor of Labor Day

The workplace is the new minefield for identity theft to both job seekers and current employees. With unemployment at 9.1 percent as of July 2011, many scammers are placing ads for jobs that don’t exist to coerce job searchers to provide personal and even financial information under the guises of getting a great job. According to an August 2011 SmartMoney blog: many scammers are finding it easier to take advantage of job-seekers desperate for work. In fact, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center there are many fake job postings that can be found on public job postings sites like Craigslist.com and Monster.com. So, IdentityHawkSM is providing five red flags in employer communication and five steps to take before applying for a job in honor of Labor Day.

While bogus employers may appear authentic, even using corporate logos in their communications to convince applicants of their legitimacy, there are five red flags in employer communications to watch for when applying to any online job offer.

Five Red Flags in Employer Communications

   1. Email or online requests for personal information, including bank account numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers (SSN) or your driver’s license. Some employers may request SSNs, but before you disclose it - make sure you know you are giving it to a legitimate source. No job offers should be contingent upon your accepting direct deposit for your paychecks (unless you’re applying for a U.S. government job). Be especially wary about agreeing to direct deposit of your paychecks with work-at-home or telecommuting jobs with unfamiliar employers.
   2. An “employer” email that includes Yahoo, AOL or MSN in the address. While these providers offer free email accounts, a legitimate company would not often use one of these services. If a prospective employer does use a free email address, ask them to send you an official email from the company email account as verification.
   3. A job offer made by a company you didn’t contact and which hasn’t interviewed you.
   4. A request for an advance payment for a visa, work permit or for any other reason. Many scammers offer jobs in Nigeria, the Middle East and Asia. Misspellings and poor grammar in job ads could be a tip-off of an overseas scam by someone for whom English is a second language.
   5. Requests for other personal information such as age, height, weight and marital status, which violate U.S. labor laws.

Plus, follow these five steps in contacting a prospective employer:

Five Steps to Take Before Applying for a Job

   1. Email - the company to get information about the job. But do not provide any personal information to them upfront.
   2. Phone - speak to an official at the company and ask about the job. Be assured that it is legitimate.
   3. Meet - at the company site to assure it is a real company. If you cannot meet, and the company is in your town, drive by to see the facility. If you have an interview with the company, make certain it is on-site.
   4. Verify - see if you can find a person who has worked at the company or call a Chamber of Commerce of Better Business Bureau to assure the legitimacy of the company. Search online for legitimate information about the company, search online for any complaints of non-legitimacy.
   5. Apply - once you are assured the company is legitimate, it is safe to apply; but you should still not supply highly personal information like bank accounts until you are officially hired.

“Unfortunately, job seekers must be vigilant and be assured that a company is real before applying," said Jeff Paradise, executive director at IdentityHawk. "We suggest that job seekers use the IdentityHawk tips above as a roadmap for safely applying for a job. In fact, if an employer asks unnecessary personal information at the outset of a job application -- don’t just walk away - run! Don’t let your eagerness for a job make you vulnerable to those who would prey on unsuspecting job-seekers.”
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