Feature Article
Mark Pribish
ID Theft and Your Online Job Search: Things you should know
By Mark Pribish
Vice President and ID Theft Practice Leader

Based on the current economic climate combined with unscrupulous cyber criminals, online jobseekers need to be cautious when using employment websites and even more cautious in screening for fraudulent job listings.

For example, did you know that Monster.com posted an online notice in January 2009 stating that it had been hacked into for the second time in a six month period? According to Monster.com, identity thieves illegally accessed its website and took names, birthdates, user IDs, passwords, email addresses, gender, and ethnicity information. Click here to read the full report.

While the stolen data did not include social security numbers, it is not uncommon for organized crime and professional thieves to reconcile the compromised data from a company like Monster.com with other stolen information (from other sources) to commit a variety of fraudulent activity including check fraud, credit card fraud, and of course - employment fraud.

Unfortunately, Monster.com was also breached in 2007 (on two separate occasions) - once when hackers stole email addresses and targeted Monster.com users with ID Theft scams. In their second breach event in 2007, malware (or malicious software) infiltrated a number of Monster.com website pages resulting in a computer virus that was downloaded on to those computers that linked to the affected pages on the Monster.com website.

Another example of having to be cautious when applying for a job online is did you know that when applying for a job online you should be completing your own due diligence on a potential employer just as a potential employer might be doing on you?

A red flag for a fraudulent online job listing is when confidential information like your social security number (for a background check) and checking account number (for payroll and direct deposit) is being requested prior to an actual interview and/or job offer. Every job applicant should take caution and research basic information like the company name, phone number, address, and years in business and compare it to the online job listing before submitting any information.

Since most employer groups have standard requests for online applicant information, it is acceptable, (once you have researched and qualified said employer group) to provide home address, work history including former employers, education, and references.

It is not acceptable to include a social security number on your resume or online application, bank (checking or credit card) account information, driver license number, passport number, date of birth, and/or any other financial information that can be used without your knowledge and permission - until you have qualified both the open position and the employer group as legitimate. Even then, you may want to wait until you receive a written job offer before giving permission for a background check as well as your first day on the job before providing bank account information for your direct deposit.

So whether you are a current or former user of national employment websites; or, in the process of submitting an online job application to a specific company website - be aware of red flags and warning signs to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.