Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Online Identity Theft and the Impact on Your Job Prospects

For many of us, imagining the impact of identity theft would be limited to dealing with immediate issues – cancelling credit cards, recouping lost finances, protecting ourselves against future theft, etc. But the reality is that identity theft can have long-lasting consequences, and that includes impacting your future job prospects.

Studies on the subject will always vary in the reporting, but one major 2016 study picked up by CNBC claimed that nearly 14% of people who were victims of identity theft experienced problems when applying for a job (8.5% claimed it cost them the job opportunity). A further 32% (from a 2017 study) reported problems within their current role.

Online identity theft is on the rise. Forbes recently termed ID fraud, which is one of the outcomes of that theft, the “scourge of the age”. We know that people who experience it can lose out financially, but there can also be a sense of violation. Ask anyone who has experienced a home burglary, and they’ll often tell you that it’s not the financial loss, but the sense of trespassing that stays with them. Identity theft can be similar.

Growing number of employers check credit status

But the problems when it comes to future employment can be manifold. For a start, identity theft and fraud can impact your credit score. Many employers do credit report checks these days: 16% of employers do full credit report searches on all potential employees; 33% run credit reports on some new hires. Even if you have reported the identity fraud, it can still impact your credit score for years. We should state for clarity that companies cannot see your full credit score, and that some states have passed laws limiting employers’ ability to perform credit checks.  

Other issues could come up, such as ‘criminal’ identity theft. In this case, we mean the use of your details by an individual who has been arrested or engaged with law enforcement. Again, while dealing with the issue can help resolve it – it’s not as if the slate can be wiped clean. When employers do background checks, it’s possible you can be flagged up as being charged or arrested for a crime you had nothing to with in the first place. Even if you explain this to a potential employer, their suspicions might mean it becomes a deal-breaker between you and another candidate.

So, how to fight back? The most common advice is simple: be proactive and inform any would-be employers that you have been a victim of identity theft, and that irregularities might, therefore, show up. The employers might appreciate your candidness, and it’s much better than having to explain the problem afterwards. Of course, it’s possible that you don’t know you have been the victim of ID theft.

Identity Guard offers formidable protection

In terms of prevention, there are some formidable weapons you can use. You can go to this site to find out the industry leader, Identity Guard. It uses IBM’s much-celebrated Watson AI system – you might remember it beating the Jeopardy! champions a few years back. The state-of-the-art protection offered protects your online ID, and also has options for monitoring and protecting children’s identities, which has become a growing concern among security experts.

Of course, another way to protect yourself is to simply be vigilant. One of the ironies here is that identity theft can occur through the act of searching for a job. After all, we are putting a lot of our details into cyberspace when we fill out those application forms or send emails. Legitimate job sites are well-protected and should encrypt your information, and you should be fine as long as you have a strong password for your account. But be wary of fake job profiles on listing sites, or getting job offers through unsolicited emails.

In the end, the idea of identity theft feels a bit like a natural disaster. When we think of it and look at the stats, it feels like it is something that happens to other people. But whether it’s through new technology like that used by Identity Guard, or simple vigilance when you are online, it’s best to take the steps to protect yourself. After all, it could cost you that dream job further down the line.