How to spot scams on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social network owned by Microsoft, designed for networking and professional communications. There are currently around 830 million users, and over 50 million people are looking for jobs every week on the platform. Perhaps surprisingly, LinkedIn is also the oldest ‘popular’ social media platform and was founded back in 2002.
Because of LinkedIn’s reputation and design style as a ‘professional platform’, people often feel like there are fewer ‘trolls’, spammers or fraudsters on LinkedIn compared to other social networking sites. However, this does not mean LinkedIn is one hundred percent safe. There are a number of different types of scams that you can fall victim to while on the platform, so as always when using the internet, remain wary.
Most LinkedIn scams rely on someone creating a fake profile or company. From there they can then trick vulnerable job seekers, or business owners looking to grow their companies. Scammer accounts will often have large networks and will frequently pretend to be experts in their chosen field, so you should even beware of profiles that look quite authentic.
Here are five things to look out for on LinkedIn:
Fake profiles are created by scammers in order to entrap you into some other form of scam, be that a job scam, financial scam or tech support scam. You could also be being used as part of a scammers attempts to make themselves look more ‘authentic’ so beware who you connect with.
Spotting scammers profiles can be tricky, but there are a couple of things you can look for. Check the photo, does it look like a celebrity picture, a picture that might have been pulled off a stock image site, or seem computer-generated? Check the connections, if you don’t have many connections in common then the profile could be a fake. And finally, don’t always trust premium status. Scammers could be hiding behind the validation that premium provides in order to make their profiles feel more believable.
Checking if a profile is fake is your first barrier of defence on LinkedIn, as connecting with these types of accounts is often the doorway to the scams listed below. When in doubt, ask yourself if you’ve met this person, heard of them, or if you’re familiar with the company name. Do some research and don’t be afraid to decline a connection invite.
Phishing scams happen when a scam account convinces you to click a link on LinkedIn, that is traditionally disguised as a report, relevant article, or key piece of information for a meeting or job application. By clicking the link, you are allowing the scammer access to your profile, and potentially any sensitive information or communications that you’ve had through LinkedIn.
Only click links from accounts and brands you know and trust, and hover over links to see the full address before clicking through.
Fake Job Offers
Fake job offers are some of the most common types of scams on LinkedIn. These come in varying forms. Some can ask you to complete and application test or brief, before a potential interview. The scammer then may use your work, or your ideas without paying or crediting you, or simply seek out your personal details. Others may ask you to pay a processing or application fee before your application is considered for the next stage.
Legitimate interviewers will never ask for contribution on your part for any form of background check or application, so treat any request for payment very dubiously. And while tests or briefs as part of some types of job interview are standard, make sure you know exactly what rights you have around ownership of any work that you produce.
Scammers will make contact via a profile about a potentially ‘highly lucrative’ investment opportunity for you. These will frequently involve NFT or Bitcoin. While there are ways to invest in products like these, it is highly unlikely that brokers will reach out through LinkedIn – so be sceptical of any investment opportunities.
Tech Support Attacks
Another common scam involves your account being contacted by someone posing as LinkedIn technical support. They will claim that there is a problem with your account or company page, and either that they need your email and password to fix it or direct you to click a link to rectify the situation.
Either way, the outcome is the same. The scammer is attempting to gain access to your account, from which they can pose as you, clone your account, or access sensitive information. When contacted by tech support be very diligent in checking that email or username matches exactly the LinkedIn platform. LinkedIn will also never ask you for your password.
LinkedIn is a great platform for networking, job hunting, and growing your business, but like all areas of the internet, malicious actors are lurking, so stay vigilant and don’t be afraid to do some background research into the people or brands making contact with you.