The digital economy has made life more convenient. And more dangerous. It’s never been easier to apply for a job. But, at the same time, it’s never been simpler for online criminals to use fake job postings to gather information and steal your identity when you are applying.

Identity theft seems on the verge of becoming a nationwide epidemic. One study showed that this type of crime leads to $56 billion in annual losses. All it takes is sensitive information falling into the wrong hands and part of your hard-earned cash could be included in next year’s grim total.

Job seekers can be particularly vulnerable to these operations. You’re primed to share information and afraid to miss out on an opportunity. How can you keep yourself safe?

Here are some tips to protect your personal data when applying to jobs:

Don’t Share More Than Necessary

Yes, when you fill out your employment paperwork, your employer will need all your personal details. To help the company adequately withhold your taxes and otherwise administer the details of your employment, you’ll need to share a long list of sensitive information. At that point, a certain amount of trust will become necessary.

But we’re not there yet. A job application acts as a first date — you want to get to know each other, but it’s not an appropriate time to spill all your secrets. Save that for when things get more serious.

Sure, you can trust reputable companies with your sensitive data. But not every job posting comes from a reputable source. Your application could be routed towards a phishing scam or some other data-gathering plot.

With that in mind, don’t volunteer more than is necessary to keep the recruitment process moving forward when applying. Fundamentally, a company shouldn’t need more than basic contact information in the early stages.

What to share:

  • Professional Email
  • A Safe Phone Number
  • LinkedIn Info

An aggressive approach to asking you for additional data should be met with skepticism. Consider it a red flag if the company pushes for info that you’d be uncomfortable sharing with a stranger.

What NOT to share:

  • Birthdate
  • Social Security Number
  • Home Address

Ways to Keep Extra Safe While Job Seeking

Beyond just guarding your personal data, there are added steps you can take to ensure your security. Here are a few practices to keep in mind:

Follow Good Online Safety Practices

At this point, you’ve probably developed strong instincts about online safety. Just make sure you don’t ignore those as you search for a job. The desire for the perfect position can blind us to red flags. Stay vigilant and use common sense.

Stick to Reputable Sites

A long job search often leads you off the beaten path. But remember: more obscure opportunities can come with increased risks of scams. As much as possible, stick to job sites with a proven reputation for safety.

Create a Separate Email/Phone Number

Unsure about sharing your contact info with potential employers? Feel free to set up phone numbers and email addresses just for use in your job search.

There are plenty of online phone options that let you get a burner number. Meanwhile, fresh email addresses are easy to find as well. You can then use forwarding options to make sure that you receive every communication from a possible employer.

Be Wary of Unsolicited Requests for Info

Recruiters will sometimes reach out to you, finding your resume on LinkedIn or through some other networking contact. These can become amazing, unexpected chances to drive your career forward. Just keep your guard up. Scammers can also disguise themselves as HR executives. Instead of looking for talent, they might be mining for your personal data.

Use a Staffing Agency

For added security, you can search for a position with a third-party partner. A strong recruiter, like Hiregy, can help you find the perfect position while limiting your personal risk.

Contact Hiregy today to learn more.