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As if the brutal market job seekers are facing isn't bad enough, they now have to face bad guys looking to steal their private information as they look for work.
Internet job board Monster.com has decided to be more aggressive in alerting users to the possibility that the site may be a vehicle for Internet theft. The company is E-mailing the millions of registered job seekers on Monster's main site, warning them of potential abuses of the open communication between job seekers and potential employers the site provides. The company says the decision to send the warnings, many of which were received Thursday, wasn't precipitated by any specific incident; instead, it's merely trying to protect its users.
Monster has had a safety warning, albeit hard to find, on its Web site with tips on how to avoid scam artists. "Regrettably, from time to time, false job postings are listed online and used to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers," the warning reads. It advises users to not give out credit-card numbers, Social Security information for "routine background checks," or private data such as marital status.
Monster, a subsidiary of TMP Worldwide Inc., is the nation's largest Internet job board. It says it has 24.5 million resumés posted on its main site.
Monster and competitors such as CareerBuilder.com and HotJobs.com already post information cautioning users of such dangers and telling them what they can do to protect themselves from false postings. But Monster's E-mail appears to be the first time one of the big job sites has addressed job hunters directly about the potential for identity theft.
Identity theft on the job boards is "a very rare occurrence," a company spokesman told The Associated Press. "We just want to be out in front of any potential problems."
Pam Dixon, a research fellow with the Denver-based Privacy Foundation who has studied Internet job sites, says the Monster E-mail confirms what has become a major hazard for online job seekers. "This is a very big problem and it's throughout the job-search industry," she told the AP. "It's not just on Monster. I've heard of this on all the major sites."