Q. I was contacted by a recruiter who saw my resume and wants to refer me to an unidentified company seeking a PR professional. He said he needed the last four digits of my Social Security number before he could present me to his client. Said they want to run a background check prior to the interview. Is this legit? -RS
A. Don’t do it. It is highly unusual for a recruiter to ask for Social Security information prior to an actual job offer that requires a reference check.
Two trusted recruiters confirm my gut reaction that you should decline providing your SS number.
Jet.com recruiter Travis Kessel calls the request for the Social Security number “highly suspect.” He adds, “No one should consent to a background check until they are offered employment.”
Recruiter Tina Dugas of Bloom, Gross & Associates calls the extreme vetting request “jay-dropping.” She added she’s not even aware of such a requirement in the super-sensitive cybersecurity industry.
The only explanation for such a request might be the fact a company has experienced a lot of late-stage failures in background checks, explains Tina Dugas.
Advice: Protect your Social Security number. Only provide it when you get the actual job offer. If in doubt, call the company for whom the recruiter claims to be working. The HR department can verify and explain the unusual policy.