By Summer Stephan
Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job. With the days of seeking employment through classified ads in the rearview mirror, most of us opt for searching for work online. And of course, there are a plethora of companies that vow to make this journey less stressful by directly connecting employers to potential employees.
LinkedIn is a company that seeks to make job hunting easier by serving a social network tailored to professionals. It allows working professionals to stay connected with other professionals in their field and to message and send relevant opportunities to one another. As with anything where technology is involved, scammers have found a way to use this social media site for far more nefarious purposes than originally intended.
This scam involves shady characters assuming the identity of a prospective employer and connecting with interested candidates for a job opening. As these bogus employers message others on LinkedIn, those who respond are soon persuaded to buy supplies and equipment that they falsely believe is vital to their new job. Some scammers even go as far as interviewing job candidates in an attempt to further legitimize their swindle. In some cases, job candidates are coerced into revealing sensitive personal information such as their social security number, which is then used for identity fraud.
Here are some ways you can prevent falling prey on job-searching sites:
- Always research any company contacting you.
- Seek other forms of verification from the recruiter including their company email, employee information on the company website, and a company phone number.
- The email used by the company recruiter should always be a company-affiliated email, not a public email like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail.
- Examine the profile of the recruiter contacting you. Scammers sometimes impersonate real employees at real companies.
- Authentic LinkedIn emails have a security footer at the bottom of every email that says who the email was intended for along with the recipient’s current job and company. Although this footer is not a guarantee the email is legitimate, if it is not present, do not click any links.
- A fake profile will often have a very small amount of connections, have large amounts of information missing on their profile, and be connected to a public email.
- If a recruiter offers you a job without interviewing you, has a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes in their messages, and offers you a salary significantly above the market rate, this is a red flag that you could be getting scammed.
- Lastly, if a recruiter asks you to buy equipment or invest any amount of money before hiring you, they are running a scam.
The most important rule to follow is to never give any money to anyone you’ve connected with on social media. A legitimate business would never force an employee to commit funds before hiring them.
Now, what happens if you followed all this advice but still managed to find yourself in a LinkedIn scam?
- Send the suspicious email or message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Delete the email/message from your account.
- If you clicked on any of the links in the email, run your antivirus/spyware software to find and remove any type of malicious software.
- If you gave out any form of personal information such as a password or bank account number to a scammer, make sure to reset your password and/or contact your bank.
- File a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and report the fraudulent company.
— District attorney Summer Stephan has dedicated more than 29 years to serving justice and victims of crime as prosecutor. She is a national leader in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking and in creating smart and fair criminal justice solutions and restorative justice practices that treat the underlying causes of addiction and mental illness and that keep young people from being incarcerated.