Don’t Give Your SSN to Headhunters And Recruiters!

Many headhunters wants to meet with me first.  The really sleazy ones will demand your Social Security Number (SSN) before sending you on interviews.

Don’t carelessly give out your SSN!  Due to the way “identity theft” law works, it’s guilty until proven innocent!  If you give out your SSN to a sleazy headhunter, and they leak it to criminals, then you can be in a lot of trouble!

There are many ways that giving your SSN out lead to identity theft.  The headhunter or his assistant can steal it.  They can be careless with their data security.  Once a criminal has your SSN and other personal information, they can start identity theft.  Once you’re the victim of identity theft, it’s a big hassle to get it straightened out.

Occasionally, a sleazy headhunter demands my SSN, and I refuse.  If necessary, I walk out of the interview when they insist.  I recently walked out on a sleazy headhunter, when demanded my SSN.  The excuse was “We need your SSN to put you in our computer!”  If that is true, then your candidate tracking program is defective-by-design.

That sleazy headhunter was also fishing for information on my last employer.  They probably are another recruiter that works with them, on the “preferred vendor list”.  They made it too obvious that they were fishing, because they only asked me about that job and no others.

The standard practice is that you give out your SSN only when you get to the offer stage.  You should never give out your SSN to a headhunter.  You should never give out your SSN on a first interview.  If a background check is required at the offer stage, only then give out your SSN.

I noticed that the most sleazy headhunters are the ones that demand a SSN.  You should *NEVER* give out your SSN before the offer stage.  If a job offer requires your SSN and a background check, then a non-sleazy employer will give a conditional offer.

The law regarding “identity theft” is a mess.  The burden of proof is on the identity theft victim.  You *SHOULD NOT* give out your SSN to every slimeball who asks for it.

5 Responses to Don’t Give Your SSN to Headhunters And Recruiters!

  1. You are absolutely correct.

    I don’t like recruiters. Recruiters will sell you down the river for a fast buck. A friend of mine was given a succession of bad jobs when he got above a certain age. He told me that the recruiters knew the jobs were bad with ill-conceived projects, but they failed to inform him. Recruiters know decent places from bad places at the very least because of staff turn-over.

    In the United Kingdom the law is that you no longer have to give your age or date or birth when applying for a job. In the UK, the banking system is different and you can actually open up a direct debit on someone’s bank account with very little information – maybe just sort code, account number, date of birth… The “Top Gear” presenter Jeremy Clarkson published his sort code and account number in a national newspaper and someone out about a direct debit on his bank account to a diabetes charity.

    Like you, I have been asked for my date of birth by recruiters. I was told they needed it to enter my details in their database. This was despite it being against the law at the time.

    At the time the recruiter had a select few clients and they were all engaged in online gambling.

  2. In addition to DOB, also watch out for anyone asking for mother’s maiden name. You should have a consistent fake DOB you use for inquiries not from a legal authority. But as far as maiden name goes, that’s just a straight out red flag that they plan to loot your bank account. Maiden name is routinely used as a security question for banks in the US. If you call a bank with someone’s name and account number, you can claim to be them and have the money transferred to a foreign bank account and the only verification they will ask is “last 4 numbers of social” and “mother’s maiden name.” Thus, never give these out to anyone. Also, go to the sites where your family members are doing genealogy that they make public and remove your records from there since that’s an easy place to find maiden names.

    • That won’t matter so much soon. There are plenty of single moms and people that don’t change their name anymore. Plus if you are from some hispanic countries, you get a hyphenated last name that is both of your parents’ names anyway. No mystery there.

  3. I’ve only ever been asked for SSN (at a pre-offer stage…once there’s an offer, they’ll get it from your W4 and I9 forms) by recruiters twice. I didn’t give it to either of them, but it’s no coincidence that the same firms also helped poison my reputation in the local business community by sending my resume to clients without asking me first (which thus caused me to be double-submitted at a few companies, and thus barred for life from ever working at those companies).

    If another one ever asks, I’m hanging up the phone, or walking out of the office. No recruiter _needs_ your SSN. The employer’s HR department needs it once they make an offer, for tax reasons, but until that stage, don’t give it out.

    • The sleazy headhunters demand the SSN, so it’s a way of filtering out the sleazy ones.

      Sometimes, employers do a credit check or background check. In that case, the offer should be conditional on passing the background check, and you should give it then.

      The sleazy headhunters also demand meeting you first. I’ve gotten jobs through headhunters, but never through one who wanted to meet me first.

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