Data Doctors: Tips to avoid LinkedIn scams when job searching

Q: I’ve never used LinkedIn for job searches — what should I watch for so I don’t get scammed?

A: LinkedIn is the largest social network for business professionals, which also makes it a common way for scammers to trick those looking for work.

They’ll use a host of tricks to get people to let down their guard, so it’s important to understand some of the red flags associated with job scams.

Vague job descriptions

Often, scammers will engage you with promises of great pay with very vague job descriptions, hoping that you focus on the pay and not the actual job.

A real position should have a very clear description of the job being offered, along with the qualifications that are required.

Any job that is offering to pay substantially more than anyone else in that industry should be viewed with great suspicion.

You can’t find them online

Before you engage with anyone on LinkedIn, it behooves you to do some research on them and the company that they represent away from the network.

In the age of social media and the need to have a web presence, if you can’t find anything about the company through various Google searches, it’s another huge red flag.

You can also do an image search by dragging their profile picture to Google’s image search page.

If the image is a stock photo or is for someone with a different name, it’s a scam profile.

How complete is their profile

A legitimate recruiter will have a profile filled with activities over a long period. If they haven’t posted anything recently or commented on posts, be suspicious as engagement across the network is a basic task for all recruiters.

Another huge red flag is when there is no picture uploaded to the person’s profile, or very few connections.

Request for personal information

While you’ll end up providing any potential employer with your personal information, it’s not something they should be asking for in the initial stages.

Anyone that asks for your Social Security number or bank account information through a link they send via WhatsApp, email or any other direct communication tool, should be considered a red flag.

The person interviewing you isn’t generally the same person that will be onboarding you, as that is generally a human resources person’s task.

You need to pay first

If you’re asked to purchase special equipment from a specific vendor or pay a fee to get registered, or if they offer to send you money to get started, they’re all red flags.

Rigged documents

Just as with email attachments, any document that gets sent to you via any messaging app can be rigged with malware or include a link to a malicious website. This is not a standard interaction with legitimate companies.

Fake LinkedIn messages

It’s easy to spoof email notifications that appear to be from LinkedIn, so never click on any link in what appears to be a LinkedIn message.

If the notification is legitimate, it will appear on your profile interface when you go to LinkedIn via your phone app or browser.

You should also enable two-factor authentication to protect against attempts to steal your credentials.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

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