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Online background check and scams

Online background check and scams

Requests for online background checks are being used as part of an elaborate scam to garner information for identity theft. The scam involves advertising bogus jobs and then requesting ‘successful applicants’ to undergo an online background check before being offered the post. To undergo the test – and get the job – you have to submit all your personal details including social security number and a detailed work history. This is of course a veritable goldmine of information for identity thieves.

Many job hunters who have posted a resume to a job seeking site receive an email from a ‘recruitment agent’ or ‘Head of HR’ offering them a position in a company subject to security clearance. The mail promises an interview in person later in the week and gives full phone and contact details for the recruiter. The attached form requests all the personal data needed in order to perform the background check. Fill it in and send it back and you’ve just given some criminal free access to all your personal details.


Just think about it, would an employer go to the hassle and expense of requesting a background check on a candidate they have never spoken to and never met?

If you receive an email like this but still hope that the offer might be genuine, phone the main switchboard of the company in question – using a number from the yellow pages or directory assistance and not the one given in the mailing. Ask for the person in question and you’ll soon find out if they even exist. Be wary of any number that puts you through directly to an answering machine.

Also check that the email address is from the company site and not a private address, that the phone and fax number area codes are those of the city where company headquarters are based, and that there are no spelling mistakes, missing words or bad grammar – classic signs of spam mailings.

Don’t be fooled by ads that purport to come from major companies – it’s easy to copy a logo or website layout to make an email or website look authentic. Always ask to meet in person – few companies recruit without meeting the candidates, major corporations almost never do.

To avoid online background check scams follow these rules:

  • Don’t put personal identifying information such as a social security number or date of birth on a resume.
  • If posting your resume on a public website remove your home address and phone number as well.
  • Never agree to an online background check; always meet the recruiter in person and make sure you are asked for written permission for the check to be carried out.
  • Never give out details of your checking account online – even if it comes from a supposed employer. Thieves can then take out loans, create counterfeit credit cards and drain your account once they have this information.

Even if you’re desperate for work don’t fall into the trap of giving permission for a background check online. Claims that the job involves access to sensitive client information and that the successful candidate must undergo a background check may be true – but if the job comes with such heavy responsibilities – why hasn’t the company even interviewed you?