Users need LinkedIn accounts to stay competitive in many fields. Whether you are a recent graduate looking to start a career or a professional trying to network, LinkedIn is the ultimate job-related social media platform.
Because many associate the site with finding job opportunities and connecting with colleagues, it seems like the last place to worry about schemes. Unfortunately, many scammers use the platform to exploit users. Understanding which scams are out there and how to avoid them helps you use the platform safely and securely.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social media site for professionals. It’s a platform designed to help people network with their peers, scout new employees, and find employment opportunities.
It’s not abnormal for recruiters or professionals to contact potential candidates directly through the site. Many users wait patiently for someone to reach out to them; yet they sometimes attract unwanted messages in their inboxes that may land them in trouble.
Why Do People Scam on LinkedIn?
Scammers see many opportunities on LinkedIn because of the type of people that use the site most frequently. Active users typically fall into vulnerable categories such as unemployed and desperate for work or fresh out of school and naïve to the working world.
Because the platform has such a good reputation, people turn a blind eye to sketchy interactions. Many users expect (and hope) strangers will reach out to them to offer them a lifeline.
Is LinkedIn a Secure Platform?
LinkedIn is a secure and trustworthy platform. Tons of people find their dream jobs or internships because “some stranger” came across their profile and thought they were a good fit.
The scams on LinkedIn are not a product of the platform itself but rather the product of ill-intentioned users.
People use similar scams on virtually any semi-anonymous communication platform, including sites like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram.
Luckily, spotting these scams is incredible easy, once you know what to look for.
What Are the Most Common LinkedIn Scams?
The scams you encounter on LinkedIn are not significantly different to those you encounter on other social media websites. While there are many different situations one may encounter, there are five typical schemes you should know about.
Catfishing is not a phenomenon exclusively for tricking people into dates. Scammers impersonate people online to trick others into revealing private information or handing over their hard-earned money, or just because the other person wants to be cruel.
These people may create accounts of incredibly famous people to trick someone into thinking they have a tremendous opportunity ahead with Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or another wealthy individual. They may pretend to be an entirely fictional persona with a fabricated company or background.
2. Phishing Scams
When you find a job, they do need to know a lot of your personal information. It’s not uncommon for a contract to require data like your banking details or social security number.
This fact doesn’t mean you should hand such information out to just anyone during an application process.
Some scammers use LinkedIn to find phishing victims whereby they attempt to get targets to hand over their personal information through deception.
For example, a scammer may tell you they are a recruiter from a top company and found your profile promising and urge you to apply. However, instead of directing you to the actual company site, they send you to a fake site the prompts you to hand over information.
3. Fake Job Offers
Some scammers take it a step further, and instead of offering job opportunities, they offer you jobs. Sometimes, these jobs seem too good to be true—and that’s because they are.
Never fall for the old trick of giving over your data to secure a position you never applied for.
Sometimes, scammers don’t have any use for your information. Many online freelancers fall for an online ploy where people trick you into providing a service and then ghost the user once they receive it without paying for it.
4. Fake “Technical” Issues
If LinkedIn has any problems with your account, they will not reach out to you through some random profile. Other sites will also not use LinkedIn as a platform to contact you in case you have technical issues.
When someone claims they need your information in one of these messages, report them immediately. They are likely trying to trick you. These scams may even happen beyond the platform.
LinkedIn is an established and successful company. They can afford their own email domain and won’t reach out to you through a “customer service email” with a Hotmail or Gmail account.
5. Malicious Software
When receiving any message from a stranger, be wary of any files they may try to convince you to download. Sure, it’s not uncommon for people to send Word documents, PDFs, or website links, but make sure you have some virus protection on your computer that’ll check for malicious downloads.
Do not click on anything suspicious or unsolicited.
Some red flags help one indicate whether or not a file is sketchy. For one, you can use an app to scan a file beforehand and have it alert you if there is malicious software within a file.
Look at the size of a file before you download it. If someone tells you they are sending you a one-page Word document and the file attached is over 20MB, you should be suspicious.
Also, look out for attempts at deception. If someone is trying to trick you into downloading a file, they probably know something is wrong with it.
Sometimes, people accomplish this by disguising links. By hyperlinking plain text, it looks like you are clicking a link when, in fact, you are activating the masked hyperlink.
Is It Safe to Use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an incredibly safe platform to use that many find necessary for staying competitive in the modern job market.
Using LinkedIn is no more dangerous than using any other social media service like Facebook or Instagram. Understanding what potential threats are out there and learning how to deal with them is a great way to avoid them and use the platform safely.
When beginning as an online freelancer or remote worker, you need to make sure you don’t get scammed.
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