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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

LinkedIn Scams: How to Spot Fraud on Job Search Sites

How to Spot Fraud on Job Search Sites

How to Protect Yourself from Job Search Scams


Finding employment today is challenging enough. Your work history, resumé, and qualifications must pique the interest of your potential employer before you even get an interview. Now job seekers have a new obstacle, fake profiles from scammers looking to steal their personal, sensitive information.


LinkedIn users are being scammed by con artists who pose as legitimate businesses looking for a candidate of their qualifications. Using social engineering and preying on the hope of unsuspecting users, scammers can weave a convincing story that will bring down the guard of even the most suspicious person. The scammer then tricks them into giving up their personal data like their phone number, email address, social security number, and bank account information. This form of identity theft is growing in all corners of the job market.


According to a Better Business Bureau Job scams study, people ages 25 – 34 are reporting more scams. This same age group was losing on average $1,136 to job search scams. But that dollar amount is nothing compared to the $2,229 that people 65+ were losing on average to the same scams. This comes despite being the smallest percentage of people reporting being victims of those scams.


While you’d expect scams on social media platforms like Facebook and X, fake job posting occurs on Linkedin, Indeed, and just about any site that allows user-created job postings. Job search sites have a real problem on their hands, they cannot police every posting that’s made leaving their users wondering which postings are legitimate.

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How Do LinkedIn Scams Work?


It’s important to note that job search scams on Linkedin and similar platforms can vary, but the end goal is for the scammer to separate the job seeker from their information like their name, address, phone number, social security number, and even financial institution information. Here are the most common LinkedIn scams.


One way scammers work is to create a fake job posting. Sometimes the posting is completely fake, meaning the position and the company are all made up. Other times the position is fake but leads applicants into thinking they are applying for a real company. Regardless, those who apply are contacted by a person pretending to be a recruiter or HR representative where valuable personal information is taken under the guise of applying for the fake position. In high-level operations, people may be sent to a fake website that may harvest their data.


Scammers often leverage urgency and limited time to get their targets to agree to something they never would, and the job search scam is no different. LinkedIn users may receive a pressing message from a fake recruiter who says they are looking for someone with their skills to fill a serious vacancy at a fake company. Because this false situation is so pressed for time the scammer can say they are skipping the interview and just ask them to send their private details to them quickly to start the process. The scammer can even ask that the target not divulge they are applying and ask they not share any details of their onboarding process with anyone. These are classic scamming tactics to be suspicious of.


Often bad actors will use the lure of an unrealistic offer to entice someone into going along with their trap. Many people looking for jobs are motivated to leave their current position or may be dealing with a personal financial crisis; this may lead them to forgo any suspicions based solely on the offer in which they are presented. In other words, they are so fixated on the prize, that they lose sight of what’s going on.  


Concerns about submitting information for background checks are legitimate. It’s important to note that job seekers should not send personal information to a recruiter or HR representative directly. Most companies outsource background checks to legitimate vendors who will take your information on a secure website and then share the results with employers.


It is important to note that the increase in fake job scams isn’t only for well-known companies. Many times, small companies can be used to swindle unsuspecting job hunters. Don’t think that only large corporations can be spoofed in a con.

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Signs of a LinkedIn Scam


With some vigilance, job hunters can spot the warning signs of an employment scam on any platform. Here are a few red flags to watch for.


  • The too-good-to-be-true offer that comes from out of the blue. While this may seem like a Godsend invitation to apply for a job you’ve never heard of, caution is needed.

  • You are asked to give your vital personal data like your full name, date of birth, and social security number up front. Do not give this information via email or chat – that’s not acceptable for legitimate companies.

  • An offer comes from a high-end company, including real logos, but the email address is basic and does not match the company email addresses.

  • The job recruiter tries to get you to pay an application fee or pay in advance for job training.

  • You never get to meet the recruiter or interviewer and the job offer comes way too quickly.

  • You receive connection requests from people that you do not have any association with or have a tie to their company.

  • Suspicious links are sent in emails and messages that do not look like they go with the domain of the hiring company.

  • The job application website (if one is even given) looks like it was built quickly and has grammatical errors. Also, the site will not be secure, so look for the HTTPS in the web address.

  • If the recruiter pressures you or threatens you into giving up your personal data after you’ve declined, that’s a big red flag.

  • If something seems off, trust your gut. Don’t belittle the little voice inside you.


How to Spot Fake LinkedIn Profiles


Fake profiles are an issue for everyone. They hurt the credibility of sites like LinkedIn, and they hurt job seekers, and legitimate companies looking to hire qualified people. Just as social media platforms have fake users and bots, job seekers must also be cautious of spotting a fake LinkedIn profile when searching for new employment. Here are some tips on how to spot a fake LinkedIn profile.


Does the image look like a real person or a stock photo? While some professional headshots do look high-quality, compare the person’s work history and experience to see if they match up. Other times scammers steal real faces to enhance their scam. Consider doing a reverse image search on the image to see if it checks out. Also, with advances in AI, it can be hard to spot a fake image.


Consider the person’s work history. Look for logical connections in their education and work experience. Does the person have connections with their graduating class? Do they have connections with past employers? After all, LinkedIn is a professional networking site, if the profile doesn’t have many connections, that’s an indicator. Also look at inconsistencies in dates, locations, and any important information that may be missing. These things are hard to fake and only take a moment to scrutinize.


LinkedIn has created a new feature to help users spot and report fake profiles. The “About this profile” feature will show the date the profile was created and any verified contact information. Users can also verify themselves on the platform to prove they are legitimate.


Red flags in any of these areas suggest that this is a fake profile. If that is the case, discontinue communicating with it and report it to Linkedin. Keep in mind that real people have real connections and interactions – even people who don’t use the platform often.

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Protect Yourself Against Job Search Scams


Now armed with new information, you’ll be able to spot scammers better and be more discerning when giving out your personal information. Your first step is to search for jobs on legitimate websites from legitimate companies. Remember to look for the verified badge on the poster’s profile.


Keep in mind that legitimate recruiters and headhunters don’t ask job seekers for credit card numbers or money of any kind. Companies hire these people to find qualified candidates, that’s how they make their money. A request for financial details like a bank account number is not something a real recruiter will ask you for.


If possible, avoid applying for a job on a job search website. Instead, try to find and verify the job on the official website of the company. This way you know that the posting is still valid and that you can apply directly with them.


When you have a written job offer, have met with a recruiter, had an outstanding interview, and completed paperwork, only then is it okay to provide your personal data like your full name and social security number. To better protect your private data online, consider DeleteMe to remove your information from data broker sites. Read my review as a long-time customer


Is it Safe to Use LinkedIn and other Job Search Sites?


As with all job search sites and social media platforms they are generally safe to use. But a healthy dose of reality needs to be considered when applying for a job or receiving LinkedIn messages from someone you do not know. Be slow to respond to such requests and use your observational skills when job hunting. Keep in mind that it’s alright to search for jobs on these sites, but applying should be done on the legitimate company website if possible.

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How to Report a Scam on Linkedin


LinkedIn offers users the option to report a job scam found on its website. They urge people to fill out a support form that will require information from you. You’ll be asked to provide your first and last name, email address, and the URL of the sender’s profile. Then you can provide relevant details to help them investigate the issue. Make sure you have screenshots of the post, their profile, and any correspondence that involves a crime. You can attach files in JPG, PNG, GIF, and PDF formats.


Report Scams to Law Enforcement


Reporting scams to law enforcement is vital to keeping the job-hunting community safe. LinkedIn members should not blow off any attempt at taking your personal information. The tip you provide could be the missing link investigators need to make an arrest or shut down a scammer ring. If you are the victim of a scam do not be embarrassed. It happens to good people every day.


You can report job scams to the Federal Trade Commission which has set up a system for recording these crimes. While you may want to call your local law enforcement office, generally they are too busy and don’t have the manpower to fully investigate every claim. You can also submit any scam to your state’s attorney general’s office.

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Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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