In this day and age, nearly everyone uses the internet in some shape or form. The way we look for work is no different and the majority of people are using the web as a core part of their job search. There's a lot of benefits to searching for work online - for example the convenience of being able to do it from the comfort of your couch. The flipside is that you also need to be aware of the risks of searching and applying for jobs online. Unfortunately, there are dodgy people out there with bad intentions. As a result, it is really important to be sensible and understand how to protect yourself while job seeking online.

You can do this by making sure that you know how to:

  • create a strong password
  • protect your passwords
  • be safe when using a public computer

In the unfortunate event that you think your identity has been stolen, it is also important to know who to report to.

A computer is blurred with only the middle of the keyboard in focus. A lock is on top of the middle focused part of the keyboard.

Creating and protecting passwords

When creating a password to use for your online profiles, it is crucial to create a password that is hard for other people to guess. You can do this by:

  • adding a mix of numbers, capital letters and lowercase letters to the password
  • not reusing the same password over different websites and mobile apps
  • never giving out your passwords to anyone
  • changing your passwords frequently
  • always using two-factor authentication on websites that have it
  • not using personal information (such as your name) or easy to guess words

If you need help managing your passwords, there are also reputable password managers out there. A quick internet search will give you some options.

A piece of paper is on top of a keyboard. The words "Password" are written on the paper. Under the writing 5 asterisk symbols have been drawn.

How to be safe when using a public computer

When using a computer at a public place such as an airport, internet café or a hotel you need to be extra careful as public computers are not as safe as computers that you have at home.

Public computers are more likely to have viruses and unauthorised software installed. If you aren’t careful, other people might be able to access the websites you have visited. Worst case scenario, this could lead to your identity, data or money being stolen.

When using a public computer it is important to follow these safety tips:

  • don't let anyone see your passwords or answers to secret questions
  • always log out of accounts when you have finished
  • clear browser data, cookies and history before signing out of the computer
  • always disable "Save Password"
  • never download anything that you're unsure about
  • check who is around you and who might be watching what you do
  • try not to click on random ads
A computer room with a row of computers on a desk. A row of chairs are in front of the computers. A blurred sunrise can be seen in the back window of the room.

Help! I think someone has stolen my identity online

Identity theft is a crime that involves the theft of somebody else's identity to gain benefits or steal money. The common methods of identity theft include hacking, remote access scams and phishing.

Some warning signs of identity theft include:

  • receiving emails or phone calls out of the blue asking to confirm personal details
  • receiving a friend request from someone you don't know
  • amounts of money that have gone missing from your bank account
  • receiving bills, invoices or receipts for services or goods which you have not purchased
  • not being able to log into your email or social media account

To protect yourself from identity theft online you should:

  • never send out money or give out your credit card information to people that you don’t trust or know
  • always lock your devices with a password or PIN
  • keep all of your device software up-to-date. You should also have current anti-virus software installed. This will remove, prevent and detect suspicious programs from your computer or mobile device
  • only download apps from official app stores or markets
  • never click on links or open attachments in emails from people or companies that you do not know. Do not click links that require you to enter personal or financial information
  • be cautious when job hunting online and keep your eye out for  a fake job ad scam
  • never reply to emails you weren’t expecting or from companies you don’t know. Before replying to someone, check the email address is legitimate
  • disable pop-ups on your browser
A computer with a blue screen. A lock is seen around the computer screen.

Who do I report to if I think someone has stolen my identity online?

If you think someone has stolen your identity online it is important to report it to the police immediately. If you think a scammer has your account details, passport, tax file number, licence, Medicare or other personal identification details, contact your bank, financial institution, or other relevant government organisation immediately. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also has a list of helpful resources.

More resources

Images: iStock

Author Lily @ jobactive