Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S., and unfortunately, the risk can be even higher for the unemployed.
“When you’re without a job, you’re often more eager to offer your information to potential employers,” said Scott Mitic of consumer identity protection company TrustedID. “And when you feel vulnerable you’re less likely to be cautious.”
He offered these tips for staying safe while looking for a job.
1. Be wary of background checks. If someone calls you asking to do a background check based on what they’ve seen online, that’s a major red flag, Mitic said. “Background checks should only be done once you’ve been offered a job.”
2. Don’t be too trusting. If someone contacts you claiming to be a representative of a certain company, but the number and e-mail don’t match, be sure not to offer any information at all.
3. Keep resumes safe. Don’t post any personal information — such as address or social security number — on your resume.
4. Try to stick to trusted Web sites. Mitic recommended LinkedIn, since you usually interact with people with whom you have some sort of connection. But, he described sites such Craigslist as “the Wild West,” so be careful what you put out there; people could be just waiting to steal your identity.
5. Lessen the damage. If you suspect that you’ve already given out too much information, there are things you can do. Mitic suggested contacting the credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and putting out a fraud alert. If you want to go one step further, you can contact all three credit bureaus and freeze your credit report. He also recommended immediately checking your credit report (which you can do online at annualcreditreport.com)