Keep your personal information safe while job hunting

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) - When you’re searching for a job, you’re often sending complete strangers personal information. But if you’re not careful, a criminal could get a hold of all the information you’re sending those employers: Your name, birth date, phone number, and social security number.

There are a few simple things that you can do to protect yourself from hackers and scammers.

First, make sure the Wi-Fi connection you’re using is safe. If you’re in a public place, sharing Wi-Fi with strangers, you’re more vulnerable to hackers. Use a private connection that’s password protected.

ALTEC Computers Repair Technician Austin Merath says when you’re on a site, you need to make sure it’s secure. Every browser is different, but you can look for a symbol near the URL and click on it to learn more about its security. He says most major browsers are secure, but he recommends Google Chrome.

“If it has a little red triangle, that’s usually a red flag that something’s amiss,” said Merath, “This website, with the green lock, has met the security standards by Google Chrome, and it’s not going to bombard you, or use these functions for malicious purposes.”

“If it’s a big name website, like Monster or Indeed, or something like that, typically you’re going to be safe. Now if your computer is infected with a virus, or your browser is hijacked, that’s where you really have to watch out. Because even if you go to a secure website that’s where you information could be potentially compromised,” Merath explained.

If the computer is infected with a virus, it’s time to take it in for repairs.

Merath says proceed with caution when using websites like Craigslist, where anyone could post a job opening.

“It’s not to say that Craigslist is not a good place to look for jobs, but there definitely is higher risk to find legitimate jobs, or fake postings, and higher risk to lose your information,” he said.

Missouri Career Center Communications Coordinator Megan Short says that’s one of the benefits of finding a job through Jobs.mo.gov.

“We actually verify all of our employers,” she said, “So everyone that posts a job through Jobs.mo.gov, the website that we use we actually verify it with a tax ID numbers.”

Short says be careful about recruiters who call or email you with a job offer.

“You always want to look into it a little more. Never just provide your information to someone that reaches out to you. And we still follow the rule of, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” said Short.

Some applications will ask you for a social security number, maybe even a driver's license number. That’s information that you might consider leaving off until you land an interview, but Short says that could hurt your chances of getting a job.

“The downside of holding back whenever you have an online application, is that sometimes that actually can cut you out of the process. So it’s a lot better to just verify that it’s okay to send it,” she said, “Really avoid emailing that information.”

She says email inboxes are prone to hacking, so avoid sending in an application via email go through a secure site.

When it comes to your resume, make sure you remove your address and phone number before you post it on a public site where anyone can see it.