As a platform for professional networking, finding job opportunities, and staying in touch with colleagues, LinkedIn seems like a place where you don’t have to worry about online schemes.
But LinkedIn is primarily a social network, and like any other social platform, it attracts digital criminals who deceive, exploit, or defraud users.
Getting familiar with common LinkedIn scams can help you stay alert for such suspicious activity.
This article also shares insights on how to spot scams and fake profiles on LinkedIn along with tips to protect yourself from scammers.
- What Are LinkedIn Scams?
- Why Are You Targeted by LinkedIn Scams?
- Common LinkedIn Scams
- How to Spot LinkedIn Scams
- How to Spot Fake LinkedIn Profiles
- How to Protect Yourself from LinkedIn Scams
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
What Are LinkedIn Scams?
According to eMarketer’s Digital Trust Scoreboard and the US Digital Trust Report, LinkedIn is the most trustworthy social media platform among users in the United States.
For the most part, this is true. LinkedIn is one of the most secure networks for professionals online. Your feed is all about professionalism and credibility; no memes, baby photos, or flame wars.
Naturally, you expect the same behavior from everyone else on the website. So, you lower your guard because anyone on LinkedIn should be reliable, right?
This trust is what scammers depend on to get honest users to take their bait.
As a semi-anonymous communication site, LinkedIn has its share of ill-intentioned users who exploit the platform to commit fraudulent activity.
Why Are You Targeted by LinkedIn Scams?
Here’s what makes LinkedIn users an easy target for scammers:
1. You Expect Messages from Unknown People on LinkedIn
A lot of LinkedIn users find job or internship opportunities after a recruiter who’s basically a stranger comes across their profiles, thinks they’re a good fit, and sends them a message.
This sequence is so normal that users on LinkedIn expect and even hope to receive messages from people they don’t know on the platform.
So what you think is a credible job offer can easily be a scammer taking advantage of your trust in the recruitment process.
2. LinkedIn Looks Professional
LinkedIn is a job-oriented platform where professionals connect — one of the main differences between LinkedIn and Indeed.
Your feed is all about such themes, with no gossip news, food pictures, and funny statuses.
You log into LinkedIn and expect the same professionalism and reliability from everyone else on the site. As such, you’re less careful regarding the possibility of getting scammed.
This more relaxed attitude is exactly what digital criminals look for in potential prey.
3. You’re Vulnerable During Job Searches
You’re most likely on LinkedIn because you need a job. Scammers know this.
They also know you’re more vulnerable when searching for a job. So, they target you because the chances of you clinging to a job offer without a thorough check of its credibility are higher during such periods.
Common LinkedIn Scams
Here are the most common LinkedIn scams you may encounter:
1. Fake Accounts
A typical LinkedIn scam is fake profiles, also known as catfishing. This is where ill-intentioned users impersonate people to trick others into sharing sensitive information or giving them money.
These fake accounts may be of famous, wealthy people who you’d be incredibly lucky to communicate with let alone have the opportunity to join their business ventures.
It’s not weird for a recruiter to want you to share personal data when you get considered/accepted for a job.
While you can give out details like your social security number or banking information during an application process, this doesn’t mean you should hand them out to anyone who asks.
3. Fake Job Offers
Some scammers will contact you and offer you a job that seems too good to be true.
If you’ve never applied for the position in question, be very careful not to share your private information with the person who reached out.
They may not even ask for your data. They may ask you to perform a service and then ghost you when it’s time to pay.
4. Fake Tech Support
Some scammers pose as technical support agents who’ll fix “issues” with your account but they need your personal information to do so.
LinkedIn doesn’t contact users via messages regarding technical problems, nor do other companies use LinkedIn to do so.
5. Malicious Software
Another common ploy that scammers use is to send you a message containing a download link for malicious software.
It’s normal for people on LinkedIn to send PDFs, Word documents, or website links via messages. Scammers exploit this aspect and disguise their malicious content as seemingly harmless links.
How to Spot LinkedIn Scams
Now that you’re familiar with the most typical LinkedIn job scams, here’s how you can spot them:
Avoid Offers That Seem Too Good to Be True
If someone contacts you with a job offer that seems too good to be true, chances are it’s exactly that.
Scammers know that many job seekers are too eager for an attractive opportunity, whether it’s very high pay, a fantastic benefits package, an extremely flexible schedule, or all of that together.
They know that you’d be vulnerable to the risk of applying too quickly, so you may end up handing them your sensitive data before you realize you’re getting scammed.
Don’t Open Links or Download Software
This is basic, but it works. Unless you know the person who sent you the link, don’t click on it to open it.
Additionally, don’t agree to download any content from people you’re not familiar with. If you do open a link and it prompts you to type in your name, password, or other personal information, don’t do that either.
Don’t Pay Anyone
Whether a position is open only to in-state candidates or is also available for out-of-state applicants, you should never have to send anyone money to get considered or accepted for a job.
Assume that anyone who asks you for payment is a scammer.
Avoid Offers With Bad Grammar or Spelling
A legit offer from a trustworthy recruiter or company is tailored to look professional and read correctly.
Scammers often send offers with spelling or grammar mistakes because they typically don’t speak English as a first language. If you come across such a scenario, don’t engage in it.
Know That LinkedIn Has No Phone Support
LinkedIn agents won’t ask you for a phone number to contact you because the company doesn’t offer phone support. So if you’re asked for a phone number by a technical support rep, they’re probably trying to scam you.
Don’t Respond to Flirty Messages
Dating scams aren’t something you’d expect on a job-oriented website for professionals like LinkedIn, which is exactly what makes them a bigger threat.
Flirty messages that seem genuinely caring are often the start of a romance scam that aims to get you to open up and eventually share private information, send gifts, or even give money.
How to Spot Fake LinkedIn Profiles
Here are some pointers to help you figure out whether or not an account is real:
Avoid Accounts That Are Posing as Celebrities
If the account is using a celebrity’s picture as a profile picture, the scammer is likely attempting to seem daring enough that the victim would believe their deceit.
They even take it a step further by filling up the profile with information relevant to the celebrity they’re impersonating.
You should know that celebrities rarely reach out to users. Try a reverse image search on Google and you’ll find the same picture used in a different context.
Make Sure You Have Connections in Common
A fake LinkedIn profile will probably have no connections in common with you.
That’s because scammers usually create these profiles right before starting their tricks and they need to use them quickly, so they don’t wait to make them elaborate.
Check Where Their Location Is
If you get a job offer from someone who’s halfway across the world, you should be suspicious. The location of the person offering you a job needs to at least be reasonable for you to even consider it to be legit.
See if They Match Their Work Experience
If someone claims to have a certain level of experience in a job, you should question it even if it’s the same role as you. Do your own thorough background check before taking their word for it.
Make Sure They Have Contact Info
Most fake accounts don’t have contact information that you can use to get in touch with them.
Browse the profile for an email, phone number, or address. Even if you find any of these, check if they’re real via Google and try to find the same information in other sources such as the account’s listed employers
Check the Photo is Authentic
Besides using pictures of celebrities, fake accounts are also known to steal photos from non-famous people.
Try a reverse image search on Google and check if you can find the same picture associated with a different name. If so, avoid communication with this user.
See if Their Profile is Complete
A fake account is usually missing information, whether it’s endorsements, contact details, work history, and so on. Although a new account may also seem suspicious, be sure to chase references and make phone calls to check the legitimacy of the person.
How to Protect Yourself from LinkedIn Scams
The following are some tips to avoid falling victim to LinkedIn job scams:
Don’t Respond to Sketchy Messages
If you receive a shady message, don’t reply. There are many red flags for a sketchy message including grammatical errors, spelling errors, a sense of urgency, flirty language, and slang.
Do Your Research
Be vigilant with your research and carefully inspect the hidden job market if a recruiter reaches out to you.
If you’re on the hiring side, get help from a LinkedIn recruiter to find the best candidate for the job.
Only Send or Accept Invitations from People You Know
Invitations are a tool to make connections on LinkedIn. Don’t accept or send invitations from people you’ve never heard of or seen take part in discussions multiple times.
If so, you could be providing scammers with a connection that they can use in their schemes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Red Flags of a Scammer?
Red flags of a LinkedIn scammer include a start-immediately offer out of the blue, unrealistically high pay, unprofessional messages, requests for personal data, absence of a contract, and asking for money.
How Can You Tell a Fake LinkedIn Recruiter?
Signs of a fake LinkedIn recruiter include unprofessional messages/emails with a lot of misspellings and grammatical errors, contact from a free account, requests for money or private data, salaries that seem too good to be true, and offering jobs without any interviews.
Our guide explains common LinkedIn scams, how to spot them, how to recognize a fake account, and how to protect yourself against them.
As always, leave a comment if you have any questions!
To avoid LinkedIn scams, be sure to respond only to people you know or have multiple connections with. Don’t click suspicious links and always do a thorough background check for the employer who contacted you.