Identity theft is a significant issue and can have problematic consequences for individuals and employers. Employment identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses another person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number or date of birth, to gain employment. The effects of employment identity theft can be serious and long-lasting, including damage to the victim’s credit score, difficulty obtaining credit, and difficulties with the tax authorities. In some cases, the victim may be held responsible for taxes due to fraudulent employment. Here are some examples of employment identity theft:
- A person uses someone else’s Social Security number to obtain a job and then uses that job to obtain credit or engage in other illegal activities.
- A person creates a fake resume using someone else’s personal information, such as their name, address, and Social Security number, to secure a job.
- A person hacks into a company’s Database and steals the employees’ data, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, to use that information to gain employment.
- A person obtains personal information, such as a Social Security number, from an individual through a phishing scam or other fraudulent means and then uses that information to gain employment.
- A person uses someone else’s personal information to apply for unemployment benefits, including their name, address, and Social Security number.
These are just a few examples of employment identity theft, and the methods used by thieves are constantly evolving. It’s important to be observant about securing your personal information and to take steps to minimize the risk of identity theft, such as monitoring your credit reports, securing your tax documents, and being watchful regarding the information you share online and in person.
There are several types of employment identity theft, but some of the most common include the following:
- Social Security Number (SSN) misuse occurs when someone uses another person’s SSN to gain employment, resulting in the victim’s name appearing on a false W-2 form and potentially affecting their credit score and financial history.
- Fraudulent job applications: A person creates a fake resume using someone else’s personal information, such as their name, address, and Social Security number, to secure a job.
- Phishing scams occur when a person obtains individual data, like a Social Security number, from an individual through a phishing scam or other fraudulent means and then uses that information to gain employment.
- Database breaches – A person hacks into a company’s Database and steals employees’ data, counting Social Security numbers and dates of birth, to use that information to gain employment.
- Misuse of unemployment benefits – They occur when someone uses someone else’s personal information to apply for unemployment benefits, including their name, address, and Social Security number.
Various steps can prevent employment identity theft. By following those, you can help protect yourself and your employer from employment identity theft:
1. Protecting Personal Information
Protecting your personal information is important in preventing identity theft. Here are some ways to do that:
- Keep sensitive information private – Only share sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, birth date, and financial information, when necessary and only with reputable sources.
- Secure your devices – Use strong passwords and security features, such as biometric authentication, to prevent unauthorized access.
- Use encryption – When using public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to cipher your internet connection and protect your personal information.
- Be careful with email – Be cautious about opening emails or links from unknown sources, as these may contain malware that can steal your personal information.
- Limit what you share on social media – Be mindful of the information you share, as identity thieves can use this to answer security questions or steal your identity.
- Check privacy settings – Review the privacy settings on your social media and other online accounts to make sure you’re sharing only the information you want.
2. Protecting Your Computer
You can do the same using the steps below.
- Use a strong password – Make sure to use a strong password for your computer and all your online accounts, and update your passwords regularly.
- Install antivirus software – Antivirus software can help protect your computer from malware and other cyber threats. Make sure to keep your antivirus software up to date.
- Install firewalls – Firewalls can help protect your computer from unauthorized access. Make sure to enable the firewall on your computer.
- Keep your software updated – Regular updates can help fix security vulnerabilities and protect your computer from cyber-attacks. Make sure to keep your operating system and all other software up to date.
- Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi – Public Wi-Fi networks can be insecure, so be cautious when using them. Accessing delicate information on public Wi-Fi networks, such as bank accounts, should be avoided.
3. Watch For Phishing Scams
Beware of emails or phone calls from people claiming to be from your employer or a government agency asking for sensitive information. Always verify the sender and never click on links or download attachments from unknown sources.
- Use secure networks – When using public Wi-Fi, be mindful of the network you are connecting to and avoid accessing sensitive information.
- Check your credit report – Frequently check your credit report to ensure no unauthorized accounts or charges. A free credit report can be received from the three credit bureaus annually.
- Report lost or stolen information – If you suspect your personal information has been compromised, report it immediately to your employer, the credit bureaus, and the authorities.
4. Monitor Your Accounts
Frequently check your bank and credit card statements to look for unauthorized charges. Also, consider setting up fraud alerts on your credit reports, which will notify you if anyone tries to open a new account in your name.
5. Use Strong Passwords
Using strong passwords is an important step in preventing identity theft. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords:
- Make it long: A longer password is harder to crack, so aim for at least 12 characters.
- Use a mix of characters: A merger of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, or numbers is recommended to strengthen your password.
- Avoid using personal information: Avoid using guessable data in your passwords, like name or birthdate.
- Don’t reuse passwords: Don’t use the previous or identical passwords for multiple accounts, as this increases the risk that your personal information will be compromised if one of your accounts is hacked.
- Use a password manager: A password manager can help you generate and store strong, unique passwords for each account.
6. Secure Your Mail:
Securing your mail is another important step in preventing identity theft. Here are some tips for securing your mail:
- Use a secure mailbox: If you have a mailbox at your home, ensure it’s secure and can’t be easily tampered with.
- Have mail held when you’re away: If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, has the post office hold your mail, or have a trusted friend or family member collect it for you?
- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight: If you receive mail that contains sensitive information, don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight. Instead, retrieve it as soon as possible and store it securely.
- Use a mail forwarder: If you’re moving, consider using a mail forwarder to have your mail forwarded to a secure location.
- Shred pre-approved credit card offers: If you receive pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, shred them before throwing them away.
7. Shred Sensitive Documents
Shredding sensitive documents is an important step in preventing identity theft. When you discard sensitive documents that contain personal information, such as bank statements, credit card bills, and medical records, it’s important to shred them before throwing them away.
- You can purchase a personal shredder for your home or a Professional
- shredding service to destroy your sensitive documents securely.
- Additionally, it’s important to shred any credit cards or IDs that you no longer
- need, as these can also be used to steal your identity.
8. Use Encryption
Encryption encodes information so that someone with the key can only read it to decode it. When preventing identity theft, using encryption can help protect your personal information and sensitive documents. For example, encryption can secure your online communications, including email, instant messaging, and file transfers. You can also use encryption to secure your personal information on your computer and mobile devices, such as using full-disk encryption to protect the data stored on your hard drive. By using encryption, you can better protect your personal information and reduce your risk of identity theft. However, it’s important to remember that encryption is not foolproof and that other security measures, such as strong passwords and regular software updates, are also important for protecting your personal information.
Employment identity theft is a serious problem where criminals use someone else’s personal information to gain employment or steal from their employer. To avoid becoming a victim of employment identity theft, there are several tips to keep in mind:
- Protect your personal information by only sharing it with trusted sources.
- Keep yourself updated regarding your credit report and look for any suspicious activity.
- Be cautious when applying for online jobs, and avoid submitting personal information through unsecured channels.
- If you doubt anything regarding your identity theft, report it immediately to the relevant authorities and take steps to protect your personal information.
. Following these tips can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of employment identity theft.