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Posted on December 6, 2016 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

The holidays are an exciting time for most people, as men, women, and children of all ages look forward to spending time with loved ones, eating delicious food, and swapping thoughtful gifts. However, for all of the joy the holiday season brings, it can also be financially stressful for a large portion of the population. For 2016, U.S. shoppers say they’re planning to spend an average of $929 on gifts — an extra $929 that many people simply don’t have.

Luckily, the holiday season also brings many part time and seasonal employment opportunities for those of us who want to make some extra cash. The National Retail Federation predicts that retailers will hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this season — and that doesn’t even count jobs in transportation, manufacturing, or fulfillment — so there are are plenty of positions of all types to go around.

Unfortunately, scam artists and identity thieves also like to take advantage of this time of year and cook up hiring scams that target seasonal workers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a job is fake, while others are much more obvious — look out for some of these red flags as you search for a holiday job:

  • Requiring your Social Security number. No one needs your Social Security number until you’ve been officially hired and need to get paid, so if anyone asks before that, do not hand that information over.
  • You can’t find any real, detailed info on the company, no matter how hard you look.
  • Receiving a job offer without filling out an application or having a formal interview. It’s not normal for a job posting to say jobs will be offered on the spot.
  • Potential employers that want to conduct your interview via some type of instant messaging service. If you can’t hear their voice or see their face, it’s because they don’t want you to.
  • No legitimate employer will ever ask you to send them money for any reason whatsoever. Absolutely do not give anyone money — even if they say you’ll be getting it back. This includes if you are hired, receive a paycheck, and the employer says they accidentally overpaid you. Don’t send any money back — if they really did overpay you, they can take it out of your next check.

The best way to avoid hiring scams? Rather than responding to holiday job ads, go out there and be proactive. Think of companies in your area you wouldn’t mind working for, find out whether they’re hiring holiday help, and contact them directly, either by phone or in-person. You’ll have a better chance of working for a company you truly admire, and you’ll be far less likely to be victimized by identity thieves and their shameless scams.

Identity thieves don’t just run scams during the holidays — they’re working around the clock all year long. Protect yourself and your loved ones in 2017 and give the gift of identity theft protection with IdentityForce.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Andreas Klinke Johannsen.