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Employment-Related Identity Theft
June 2024
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Employment-Related Identity Theft

What is employment identity theft?

Employment identity theft is when someone steals another person’s identity and uses it to get a job or pass a background check. Some experts say that it’s the most prevalent form of identity theft out there.

When it comes to scams, this is one of the worst, because it can take years to discover it, and an employment identity theft can have awful effects on your name and livelihood. Fixing it could take literally years. And you could face tax audits and lost tax refunds because of erroneous reporting to the Social Security Administration. Even worse, it could affect your future job prospects.

Why would someone participate in employment identity theft? Because getting a job is hard if you have a checkered past. A criminal record or bad work history could be reasons that an online thief resorts to stealing unsuspecting people’s Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to use it as their own to pass a background check.

The dangerous thing about this type of ID theft is that employer background checks often aren’t very thorough, so thieves don’t even need all of someone’s PII, just some of it.

How does employment identity theft happen?

During the job interview process, you should be on the lookout for the signs of employment identity theft.

For example, watch for:

  • Potential employers asking you for your credit card accounts or your bank account info for the purposes of a “background check”—especially if they haven’t interviewed you yet.
  • If you’re communicating with someone working for a potential employer, be wary if they’re using a personal e-mail address rather than a business e-mail account.

For more info, check out the federal government’s site www.e-verify.gov which keeps a record of all employers that have done a background check on you. If you don’t recognize one of the listed companies, you may have been the victim of identity theft.

Signs of employment identity theft

The IRS lists a few things to watch for that indicate that your Social Security number may have been compromised or that your other PII has been stolen and used by someone else for employment or to pass a background check.

The first thing the IRS advises is for everyone to get an “Identity Protection PIN.” This is a way to authenticate the right person as the proper filer of a tax return and to protect tax accounts from identity theft.

If you get any of the following, you should immediately contact the IRS and be ready to report employment identity theft:

  • An IRS notice stating you may be a victim of employment-related identity theft;
  • An IRS notice asking you to verify unreported income, payments, or credits;
  • An IRS notice to check your records to confirm your income re: an income discrepancy;
  • A W-2 or 1099 from an employer for whom you didn’t work;
  • A Notice from the Social Security Administration re: your benefits being adjusted or denied because of wages you didn’t earn; or
  • A Statement from Social Security showing more income than you actually earned.

How to report employer identity theft

Once you’ve confirmed that you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you should immediately initiate fraud alerts or, preferably, credit freezes, with the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
In addition, you should:

  • Get in touch with each business where an account was fraudulently opened.
  • Keep copies of all documents and make sure to keep records of your communications in writing.
  • Fill out the Identity Theft Report for the Federal Trade Commission.
  • File a report with law enforcement.
  • File a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

IDShield can help

Last but certainly not least, the most important step you can take when it comes to protecting yourself is to safeguard your Social Security number and other personally identifiable information. Getting identity theft protection from a world-class service, like IDShield, is truly the most effective way to battle online thieves.

IDShield offers best-in-class personal data monitoring, Social Security number monitoring, credit monitoring and privacy and reputation management. If your identity is stolen, we don’t give up until your identity is restored. Our industry-leading Licensed Private Investigators will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help recover and restore your identity to its pre-theft status.

Sign up today for either 1 or 3 credit bureau monitoring. We strive to stand out in a field that often presents do-it-yourself solutions by instead offering personalized, one-on-one consultation for managing online reputation and helping members navigate the conveniences and challenges of modern life without giving up their privacy.