Every day, we read stories about companies suffered data breaches. Worst case scenario, these security issues can lead to identity theft, which is why privacy experts tell us to guard our personal information closely. But what about during the job application process, when you’re more or less compelled to give up private information, such as social security numbers?
The short answer is, you’re probably safer than you think. In many states, companies are required to secure your private information — although, as this recent article in the Boston Globe points out, data breaches do happen.
So how can you protect yourself? First and foremost, know who you’re dealing with.
“Before providing Social Security numbers, job seekers should make sure they are applying to a reputable company through a secure website,” writes Elaine Varelas, a managing partner at career management firm Keystone Partners.
Varelas cautions job applicants not to email social security numbers. For job openings that require you to apply online, check to make sure the site is secure. Most sites will offer security information about their encryption practices, but you can also check for a lock icon somewhere in the window of the browser, which usually indicates that the connection is secure. In addition, check your URL: secure connections begin “https,” instead of “http.”
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