My friend Carrie recently joined the ranks of the unemployed. No one likes to get laid off, especially during a recession, but this one really stung. After 8 years of stellar reviews and serious loyalty to her employer, Carrie was cut loose.
What hurt, she said, was that the news came during her weekly one-on-one with her boss. When her boss entered the meeting room, she was accompanied by security. ‘Whaaat?’, thought Carrie, as they handed her a cardboard box and told her she had 20 minutes to gather her things. Only regretting the chocolate chip granola bars left in the lower right hand drawer of her former desk, she declined the opportunity to clean out her desk, signed the forms and left the building.
I’d be hitting the double sausage and hot pepper pizza if that happened to me. Carrie, on the other hand, is productive with her pain. She took a deep cosmic breath and went straight to her yoga studio.
While twisted up into Half Tortoise, it occurred to her that Bikram yoga class had been the place that helped her unwind from her less-than-awesome work days. It also occurred to her that her severance check would be just about enough to send her to Bikram’s yoga boot camp where she could learn from the master himself. The new-found freedom of unemployment had her asking, ‘Why not?’ instead of ‘Why?’, and few weeks later Carrie headed to Florida for her nine-week certification program.
Carrie’s due home in the next couple of weeks, and she’s excited about the opportunities ahead. But like a lot of other Americans right now, she’s got a tough job search ahead of her. Unfortunately, the recession has identity thieves taking advantage of the unemployed at alarming rates. Carrie, like other job seekers, needs to be diligent about protecting her information as she takes the next step down her career path.
Every time you submit a resume or job application to a prospective employer you provide a lot of information about yourself: Name, address, work history, social security number, maybe a credit authorization or background check, and that’s just for starters. While all of these can be legitimate requests from a prospective employer, personally identifying information like this is pure gold to an identity thief. You can protect yourself during your job search by following a few guidelines that will help to keep your identity safe.
- Do verify that the job and the organization exist. Popular job sites like Craigslist and Monster.com are great resources for job seekers, but users need to be careful. While both sites actively work to catch and discourage scams, it’s ultimately up to the job seeker to verify that the organization and the job are legitimate. Track down the employer’s information from a source other than the jobsite.
- Don’t provide your date of birth, Social Security Number or authorize background or credit checks until you’re sure a job offer is legit.
- Don’t provide financial information such as debit or credit cards, or account numbers as part of a job application.
- Do make sure that all e-communications come from the company’s email address rather than a personal or other third party email.
- Do report any suspected identity theft related to job scams to the website where you saw the job.
- Do check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports if you believe you’ve been duped and report any suspicious activity to the credit bureaus.
- Do more research on protecting your identity at www.ftc.gov.
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