Acknowledging a growing problem for online career sites, the message cautions that "regrettably, from time to time, false job postings are listed online and used to illegally collect personal information from unsuspecting job seekers."
Pam Dixon, a research fellow with the Denver-based Privacy Foundation who has studied Internet job sites, said the e-mail confirms a growing hazard for online job seekers.
"This is a very big problem and it's throughout the job search industry. It's not just on Monster. I've heard of this on all the major sites," she said.
Dixon said most of the cases she's familiar with involve job seekers who have provided credit card numbers, social security numbers or agreed to ship overseas materials that are prohibited from being sold outside U.S. borders.
The e-mail, labeled a "critical service message," is going out this week to all active users of Monster's main site, company spokesman Kevin Mullins said. Mullins said he did not know exactly how many people that included, but that it is "definitely well into the millions."
Monster, a subsidiary of New York-based TMP Worldwide Inc. and the nation's largest Internet job board, says it has 24.5 million resumes posted on its main site.
Monster and competitors like CareerBuilder.com and HotJobs.com, already post information cautioning users of such dangers and telling them what they can do to protect themselves from false postings.
The blanket e-mail by Monster appears to be the first time one of the big job sites has addressed job hunters directly about the potential for identity theft.
Mullins said the warning was not precipitated by any specific incident. Instead, the company is merely trying to protect its users, he said.
By Adam Geller