LinkedIn has served as a popular way to make professional connections, but as with other social media platforms, users must remain vigilant in detecting fraud. Many fraudsters are using the platform to lure job seekers to fake websites, administer phishing and vishing attacks, and circulate clickbait.
The majority of these attacks originate when scammers create fake profiles and unsuspecting users accept connection requests. From there, imposters gain access to users’ phone numbers, email addresses, professional and personal information to perpetuate all kinds of fraud. Be aware of these telltale characteristics of fake LinkedIn profiles so you can protect yourself against and prevent the spread of scam attempts.
Spotted: fishy profiles
Before accepting LinkedIn connection requests, take the time to review your petitioner’s profile. Read through their location, education, employment, and about information. Verify that it matches what you already know about the person (if you know them) or that it seems authentic. Even if a friend is connected with this person, closely review their profile as one of their tactics includes linking with one person from a network to gain trust and connections amongst the group.
Check for spelling and grammar errors, or for incompleteness. Many fraudsters do not take the time to proofread their work, write very generic headlines, or put little time into writing thoughtful, detailed job histories. If you are suspicious of a profile, or profile’s photo, you can also conduct a stock photo search with ‘Google search by image,’ as stock photo use is typically a trait of a fraudulent account.
Noted: questionable activity
Outside of analyzing profiles, users can also examine the petitioner’s activity on LinkedIn. If the user seems to have very few connections or hardly engages with others, it could be a red flag. Consider how or why the user contacted you. Did they send a connection request accompanied by an eager message about a job, possibly including a link or downloadable file? Ask yourself if you were expecting the information from this person, and be cautious of messages containing links or files as they could contain harmful malware.
If you have recently received invites from people belonging to the same company with very similar headlines, this could be another indicator of fraudulent connection requests. Additionally, be leery of those who identify as a LION in their headline. A LION is a LinkedIn Open Networker who will connect with anyone, including fake account users and spammers. Connecting with those who operate under this headline could make you a target for phishing, vishing, and fraudulent connection attempts.
Resolving and reporting fraud
If you think you have accepted a connection request from a fraudster, take action! Be sure to remove or block the connection so the scammer can no longer contact you. LinkedIn also allows you to report fraudulent profiles, and offers the ability to explain how the account is suspicious, spam, or fake. From there, LinkedIn administrators will review the account so they can disable it, protecting others from becoming victims. Don’t forget to share your experience with anyone else you know who may have connected with this person, and teach them the steps they can take to block the connection and protect themselves moving forward.