Online security firms report a 125% increase in social media phishing attacks since 2012. Jobseekers are particularly vulnerable because job applicants are accustomed to being asked very personal information during an interview, so an inquiry from a prospective employer that asks for personal details doesn’t seem unusual.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, date of birth and/or other identifying information — without your permission — to commit fraud.
One of the biggest areas of growth with identity theft is tax theft. An identity thief may use your Social Security number to file an income tax return and obtain a refund using your information. If someone uses your Social Security number to file your tax return before you do, the IRS records will show the first filing and refund, and you’ll receive a notice from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed for you.
Or, your Social Security number may be sold to an undocumented individual. If someone else uses your Social Security number to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS. When you file your tax return, you won’t include those earnings, and the IRS will notify you that you received wages but didn’t report them.
If your identity has been stolen, and you receive a notice from the IRS about unreported wages, or that your return has already been filed, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.
Be cautious when you are asked to provide your Social Security number in a job search, especially if it’s asked for in an application or online form. Do not include your Social Security number on your resume. Carefully check out companies that send you an unsolicited job application or offer before providing any personal information (especially your Social Security number).
Don’t give your bank account information (even if you’re asked to provide it so that the company can deposit your paycheck directly into your checking account).
Also, be careful of how much personal information about yourself you disclose publicly on social media sites. Identity thieves can use that information to answer “challenge” questions on your financial accounts, getting access to your money.
Image courtesy Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.