Applying for work safely

Protecting your identity when looking for work

When applying for work it is common to be asked for personal information. This is true either when applying direct to companies or when using a recruitment firm such as an agency or online platform.

Potential employers will need to confirm your identity and right to work status, as well as your bank details in order to pay you. When applying direct to companies, it is unlikely you will need to share bank details until after you receive your job offer. You may however be asked to show identity details at the interview stage. It is often worth asking how these documents will be stored and for how long they will be retained.

When working with recruitment companies they have a legal obligation to check your identity and confirm right to work, even before you have a job offer. This is most certainly the case with temporary work agencies.

What documents will I be asked for?

Employers and agencies will ask for your identity documents, right to work, and bank details.

In some cases, most notably financial services and work involving vulnerable people, you will likely be asked for proof of address documents (such as utility bills). In some cases, you may even get asked for national insurance information, but this is less common these days.

For some roles you may also be asked for credential documents such as qualification and training certificates.

Why am I asked for these documents?

Bank details are for employers and agencies to pay you, identity and right to work documents are for meeting legal responsibilities for the employer and/or agency.

For jobs requiring police checks it is normal to need to provide proof of address documents. If you are not having a police check processed for your role it is worth asking why proof of address documents are needed. National insurance proof is less common these days, so if you are asked if is worth confirming what this is needed for.

How do I provide these documents?

It is always safer face to face, but in some cases, you may be asked to send via email or even post (and sometimes original documents by post). If submitting documents by email it is worth asking your employer or agency to confirm deletion of the emails once they have saved the identity documents securely. This removes copies sitting in email inboxes and outboxes. Any documents sent by post should obviously be sent securely. The employer and/or agency should always return original documents by the same method.

What about fake job offers?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of fake job offers targeting work seekers, and also fake or disreputable recruitment agencies. If you are unsure about your job offer you can get free help and advice from SAFERjobs at If you believe you have become a victim of a fake job scam or have been exploited by a recruitment agency you should also report this to SAFERjobs.

Background screening companies

Many organisations require personal details from you to process background checks. Companies providing background screening services must only use your data for the specified purpose and must not retain your data longer than necessary. All data must be kept safely and securely during processing.

If you have concerns about how your personal information is being used please report this to us.

For further information on identity fraud and how to prevent it, please visit:
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