Just as job hunters use LinkedIn to connect with former colleagues and potential employers, scammers also use the networking service to find targets. If you have a LinkedIn account, watch out for suspicious “recruiters” and job offers.
The scam works like this: you get a LinkedIn message asking you to apply for a job. It comes from someone who appears to be a recruiter. You check out their LinkedIn profile, and it looks legitimate. You may even have several connections in common!
From here, the scam works in a couple of different ways. Sometimes, the message contains a link that appears to point to an online job application. You’re supposed to upload your resume and provide personal information, anything from your address and phone number to your Social Security number.
Other times, you respond to the message and are immediately “hired” for the job – without an interview or even a phone call. Then, you’re asked to pay upfront for training or other expenses.
A consumer in Sonoma County reported a similar employment scam to BBB Scam Tracker in June. They wrote that they were “contacted via text” about a job and were put in touch with a hiring person who they emailed with. They were offered a job even though they “had zero skills for the position”. Then they were asked to “purchase software for a computer [the company] was allegedly going to send me”.
It’s important to always be careful when looking for a job, because employment scams can happen anywhere: over email or text, and on social media and job sites. In 2016, more than 2,000 reports of employment scams were collected through BBB Scam Tracker, and according to the BBB Risk Index, they’re the third riskiest scam for consumers.
No matter the details of the scam, the job never materializes. The scammer takes the money or information and disappears. Victims who share personal details are at risk for identity theft.
Here are some tips for spotting and avoiding job scams on LinkedIn:
- Set your LinkedIn privacy settings. You can limit which LinkedIn users can send you messages or connection requests. Log in to your LinkedIn account, click “Me” at the top right of the page, and then click on “Settings & Privacy”, and then “Communications”. There you can edit what types of emails you’d like to receive and who can send them.
- Don’t accept every request you get. Check out the user’s profile for completeness and correct grammar. Just because you have several connections in common does not mean that they are real. Scammers frequently create a large network to look more legitimate.
- Ask to talk on the phone. If a recruiter contacts you through email, ask to speak by phone. Scammers will try to dodge this with excuses, such as being out of the country.
- Know the signs. Many job scams use very similar techniques, such as vague job titles, work from home positions, and on-the-spot hiring. Learn the red flags at org/employmentscam.