How to Prevent Identity Fraud When Job Hunting

work securitySurveillance by cybercriminals on job search portals is akin to an invisible predator lurking in the shadows, waiting for unsuspecting prey — job seekers. Such portals, given their rich databases of personal information, have become hotbeds for cybercriminal activity.

“If you think data security is not a concern while job hunting, think again,” says Josh Gordon, an expert at Geonode. This reverberates even more intensely today, as shocking revelations about the vulnerability of job application portals to cybercrime emerge.

Rising Perils in Job Hunting

In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported (pdf) that losses to internet crime exceeded $4.2 billion, a 69% increase from the previous year. The figures only begin to lay bare the magnitude of the problem. Cyber villains are prowling not just for financial gains, but also hunting in lesser suspected territories such as job portals, to steal personal data.

It’s a double whammy for job seekers, especially in the current challenging economic scenario. While grappling with an uncertain job market, they are now frontliners in the fight against the sinister world of cybercrime.

Crafty Cybercriminal Tactics

Job application portals are a treasure trove of personal information. Applicants disclose valuable data, such as addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, work histories and skills — all in one place. This makes these portals a convenient one-stop-shop for cyber crooks. They use various sophisticated methods to gain access to these platforms and exploit vulnerabilities.

“Dressed as potential employers, these cybercriminals dupe job seekers into providing sensitive personal information, thereby opening the floodgates to identity theft and financial fraud,” explains Gordon.

Strategies for Secure Job Hunting

Job hunters can adopt certain strategies to fortify their search and protect their personal information. Gordon recommends these measures:

Use verified platforms: Registered and verified platforms that adhere to stringent data protection measures are less likely to be penetrated by cybercriminals.

Be wary of unsolicited offers: If an employer you haven’t applied to contacts you with a too-good-to-be-true job offer, it’s likely fraudulent. Verify the legitimacy before responding.

Secure your information: Never provide sensitive personal information unless you’re confident about the employer’s credibility.

Use dedicated email and contact number: Create a special email account and phone number solely for job hunting. This will shield your primary contact information from would-be attackers.

Install regular software updates: Keeping your devices updated is a simple yet effective defense against malware and viruses.

Be mindful of scams: Watch out for telltale signs of scams-grammatical errors, unprofessional email addresses, requests for sensitive information and dubious links.

Job hunters, now more than ever, need to be vigilant while navigating job portals. Cybercrime should not add to the hurdles faced in the pursuit of a promising career. Amidst this vast digital wilderness, let the hunt not turn into a trap.

As Gordon puts it, In the realm of cybersecurity, we need to shift our attitude from ‘it won’t happen to me’ to ‘it can happen to me.’”