Job hunting beware of cyber-theft

Lost in Space

Looking for a job can be a way for the unscrupulous to steal your identity.

These days I am in a perpetual job hunt mode. The job can be as a new client of my consulting business, whether as it is an interim or long-term assignment or as a full-time employee. The roles are typically in the C-Suite (CFO/COO), but sometimes are in senior management. Most of the companies are unknowns, which means I have never heard of them prior to the assignment or job.

I read somewhere that there are approximately 6 million businesses in the United States with the average number of employees around 20 people. While the numbers may not be completely accurate, it makes sense, since the US Small Business Administration use to say that 80% of all businesses were small businesses, defined as under 50 employees.

Not that I really digressed, but added some color to this statement: just because I never heard of a company does not make that company dishonest or bad, it is just a statement of fact. Then again, it does not make them (or individuals in them or just individuals pretending to be them) honest.

I just had a client try to pull a scam, but there were so many tell-tale signs I after the first e-mail or so, my hackles raised and I was on-guard. So now, I have framed in my office a fraudulent certified check for $98,700.


I apply to a fair number of jobs every day. Many of these jobs (whether through a recruitment firm or direct) just ask for my resume and some level of contact information. Easy peasy, and since I control that information, I can say that I haven’t been bothered by many unwanted calls or spam for the most part (although there are the less than stellar recruitment companies that do data mining from either recruiting sites like Monster, et. al. or LinkedIn that offer me jobs as an Administrative Assistant and the like. Come to think of it, I’ve gotten a few text messages about jobs from the same types of people.).

Some firms ask me to regurgitate my resume into their database (a futile and time-intensive act), while others use more sophisticated software to parse either LinkedIn or my resume and attempt to pre-fill their forms (again, a maddening proposition for the candidate). Then there are those who ask for additional information that automatically raise my internal Robot warning (if you remember seeing Lost In Space’ the 1960’s Sci-Fi TV show, the Robot was always flashing red and saying Danger, Will Robinson!” Or Warning! Warning! Alien spacecraft approaching!’)

There are those US based entities that ask for my social security number and date of birth. Now if you remember, most of the companies I come across are unknown to me. What in the world, do they need to have Personal Identifiable Information (PII) at this stage of the game?

Their rationale is that they will run a credit check. That’s fine, but again, why are they running a check now. My resume may not passed muster, I may blow the interview or conversely they blow the interview (to the individuals who interview or interact with candidates please take note; the interview is a two-way vehicle. We both want to see if we want work together, think of it as a first date).

It is illegal while in the process of hiring to ask your age, so if I give my date of birth, I have given you my age. The law is there to protect us older and for that matter younger folks from age discrimination.


There is no reason to provide PII to a potential employer until they are ready to provide a (conditional) offer. By this time you will have hopefully done your due-diligence and know whether you would consider working for the firm. They, the potential employer has provided you with a letter of intent, specifying the job, salary, benefits, etc. and may include such language to the effect of ‘upon successful completion of a background check’.’.

It is now up to you whether you want to provide your PII. Obviously, if you were to be hired you would need provide this information for payroll.

What have your experiences been like?