Protecting Your Identity While Job Hunting Online

Posting a resume online is the 21st century version of pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Monster.com, the nation's largest online job site, has more than 50 million resumes in its database and gets 50,000 new ones every day. Privacy experts say that makes it a magnet for identity thieves and con artists.

"The likelihood of a job site being victimized by fraudsters is almost 100 percent, because it is just too compelling," said Pam Dixon, founder of the advocacy group World Privacy Forum. "There is just so much information that a job site has access to that a fraudster would be interested in."

Resumes offer names, addresses, phone numbers and sometimes birthdates, and eager job hunters are often all too willing to provide driver's license and Social Security numbers and more. It's everything an identity thief needs to steal from you or your bank account.

Sometimes the thief is looking to open a bank account in your clean name. One 28-year-old man, who prefers to remain unidentified, says he got a call after posting his resume online.

"He sounded like a professional executive on the phone," he said. "He was very articulate."

Scheme Almost Ended in Arrest for Job Seeker

The man was told to open a bank account and use it to transfer money to the company's "overseas directors." It was a money-laundering operation that nearly got him arrested.

"I was ashamed, embarrassed, all of the above," he said.

Monster.com says it now screens every job order that comes to its site. Any job requiring check cashing or bank payments is routinely deleted.

"We are constantly looking for ways to get one step ahead of these fraudsters," said Michele Pearl, vice president of compliance and anti-fraud for Monster.com

Job hunters need to stay a step ahead as well:

Beware of employers who ask for background checks before offering you a job.
Verify an employer's legitimacy. Call or visit its place of business.
Limit the personal information on your online resume.

"You're dealing with real criminals who are experienced. They're smart. They're slick. They're professionals. They're really good," said Dixon. "It's not just suckers who have been taken in."

ABC News' Betsy Stark filed this report for "World News Tonight."