Q. I have been looking for a job online. But I'm skeptical about registering with many job sites. I'm afraid my personal information could be stolen. How can I make sure identity theft doesn't happen to me? —Karen in Cincinnati, listening online through Kim's Club (proud two-year member!)
A. Job hunters are prime targets for identity thieves. But a little work, and a little help, can keep you safe.
In a bad job market, people get desperate. Scammers take advantage of that. They'll draw people in with grandiose offers. Then, they'll take these people for all they're worth.
Most of these scams start as posts on reputable job sites. These sites try to weed out criminals. But some always seem to slip through. So, you need to be able to recognize scams. This tip will help you spot telltale signs.
Many job sites let you create a personal profile. These profiles let you store résumés and other material online. They're supposed to make the application process easier.
The information you're storing there shouldn't be that personal. For instance, you shouldn't put your Social Security number on your résumé. But even releasing your name and address could make you uncomfortable.
No problem. Skip the profile. You can create an application from scratch for each job offer.
Unfortunately, there are many ways criminals can get your personal information. Systems can be hacked. Employees steal and sell identifying data. And criminals aren't above dumpster diving for documents that should've been shredded.
So, you need to protect your identity. Your credit report is the best indicator of activity related to your identity. You're entitled to a free credit report every year. This tip will tell you how to get it.
But a yearly check probably isn't enough. You can order additional credit reports. But do you know what to look for? This is really a job for professionals.
ProtectMyID (one of my advertisers) is a service from Experian, one of the three credit bureaus. It's full-time protection for your identity. You'll be alerted to any activity on your credit report. Experian will scour the Web for illicit uses of your personal information. And fraud experts are always on hand to help you.
You can also freeze your credit reports. No one can check them, making identity theft less likely. But potential employers might want to check yours. If it's unavailable, that could impede your employment.
Streamline your job hunt:
• Your online reputation can hurt your job search • Will your résumé survive a spam filter • Use only the best online job sites
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