Job seekers sending out applications and resumes and scanning online job boards and social networks to find potential openings might be attracting the attention from people other than hiring managers. Experts say if applicants aren’t paying close attention to their job hunt, they can easily become targets of fraudsters looking to solicit personal information.
Adam Levin, founder of IDT911, says anytime you network with a new person, it can pose a potential risk. He says job seekers in particular should be cautious about what kind of information they are sending out to potential new contacts or job prospects.
“Everyone is just trying to prove how incredibly relevant they are, but it is a danger,” Levin says. “The biggest problem we have today is that there are too many points of vulnerability.”
Social media site LinkedIn (LNKD) has become a dominate tool for job seekers, but a New York Times article calls the company’s iOS Intro app a “dream for hackers.” According to the newspaper, the app redirects email traffic to and from user’s phones and iPads through LinkedIn’s own servers then combs those messages for relevant information and adds in LinkedIn details. Hackers and intelligence agencies can potentially get access to this information as it goes from connection to connection, the Times reports.
The app pulls information from LinkedIn users’ profiles so their job titles are the main attraction in intro emails.
In response to the article, LinkedIn told FOX Business it has taken “a thoughtful approach to ensure we've put the right security precautions in place for the LinkedIn Intro product." A company spokesperson said it has isolated the Intro environment as a separate high security segment from the rest of LinkedIn systems, as well as hardened all the services that are running the platform that are Internet and internally exposed.
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Career coach Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” recommends job seekers never include personal data such as birthday, age or Social Security number in any online profile.
“I am always concerned with clients who disclose too much information,” he says. “This certainly raises some concerns.”
Scammers often prey on the susceptible, whether it’s victims of a natural disaster or the long-term unemployed.
“It’s about distraction, opportunity and vulnerability,” Levin says. “In these economically-challenging times, people seeking jobs are so focused on getting the job; they often don’t realize that they are the job.”
Levin says most scams preying on job seekers are either trying to score cash or gain access to personal information. In fact, some phony companies will ask for personal information ahead of a fake interview. Scammers even go as far as setting up bogus job websites and head hunting firms to get people to disclose information, he says.
"In certain states an employer can only use a credit report in connection with a job application if the position involves the handling of money, dealing with credit or a security clearance is required," he says.
Another ploy involves fraudsters getting the unemployed to pay for materials or software programs for online training for work-at-home scams, Levin says.
“These job posts can be very seductive, and the money sounds great, but they don’t actually exist,” Cohen adds.
And with advanced technology, some of these job postings come in the form of text or email blasts, Cohen says. He warns that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
“If you get information on an amazing job for a highly-paid administrative assistant position, or a job working overseas with limited responsibility or time committment,” those should all be red flags.
Most of all, take the time to think about the jobs you are applying for and the information you are submitting, Levin says.
“You don’t want to impulsively respond to something, because the last thing you need to do is to give someone an option on your life by, in a moment of excitement, jumping at something to find out it wasn’t real,” he says.