The road to a successful career after college is littered with land mines that can snag an unsuspecting graduate. Job applications, payroll firm data leaks, phishing emails, and other unsuspected data sources can spread your personally identifiable information (PII) well beyond your ability to control it.
Applications Ask It All
When was the last time you saw a Social Security number (SSN) on a resume? Exactly. It has no place on this standard job-hunting tool but is still commonly required on many job applications.
- It’s OK to ask whether your driver’s license number and SSN can wait until you’ve been offered a job.
- Many data breaches involve all job applicants, not just those hired. Ask how long the application form will be retained.
- Will documents be stored under lock and key? Are online forms encrypted?
- The firm must tell you if they plan to run a credit check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that you be allowed to view any negative information gathered about you so you can dispute inaccuracies.
- Small businesses face large challenges. During a 2012 break-in, a consignment store in Colorado had its entire safe stolen. It was full of employee records—most of them for young folks just beginning their work careers. One 19-year-old had her identity stolen and used in multiple crimes.
- If your job requires a security clearance, the risks expand. Federal forms demand similar data for spouses and dependents. The 2015 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach hit over 20 million individuals. Further, any fraudulent information on your credit file can cause you to lose that clearance as Steve Echols did.
Company Records Leak
Congratulations! You’re now employed, but there’s still work to do.
- The HR department probably offers direct deposit so they need your bank routing number and account details. Health and life insurance require data for your entire family.
- Providing that SSN and other key PII data is mandatory now. Ask about data encryption.
- How will you secure your copies of pay stubs and other data?
- Password-protect your smartphone and laptop. Snoopy co-workers have caused hundreds of data breaches in recent years. Don’t add your name to the list.
- Avoid clicking on any phishing emails. Your boss won’t be thrilled to find you sent W-2 forms for the entire workforce to an imposter.
- If you have a company phone, make sure you understand how it can track your location, time spent at lunch, etc.
Educational Institutions Prime Targets
When your diploma finally arrives in the mail, make a pledge to stay in touch with your institution.
- Keep your college or university contact information up to date. Student files contain a wealth of PII that ID thieves target making them top hacking targets.
- If your alma mater has a data breach, you will want to know about it ASAP so be sure to send the institution address updates. In 2013, thieves reportedly attended Emory University graduation then applied for transcripts of graduates and used them to obtain fraudulent loans.
Now’s the time to develop a comprehensive data lockdown plan. If you feel you’re too busy to keep track of all this data, consider ID Watchdog’s identity theft protection service that can do most of the work for you. that can do most of the work for you. After a short sign up, you’ll be alerted whenever new activity appears on your credit report, or your PII shows up in places you don’t want it to be.
If you know a recent grad and you’re searching for gift ideas, give them a year of ID Watchdog identity protection. It offers protection even while you sleep.