The winter holidays have all but ended. There is no more leftover turkey to eat or presents to share. As the calendar reaches the new year, many people use this time to set benchmarks (New Year’s resolutions) for the upcoming year. Finding a new place of employment often ranks very high on many people’s resolution lists.
One way to learn about new job opportunities and develop relationships with potential employers is through the social media channel LinkedIn. This is a very useful tool for job searching, but with many job seekers using LinkedIn to market themselves to potential employers, scammers also are finding ways to exploit the site by posing as recruiters. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants you to be ready to avoid this kind of scam.
It is well-known that LinkedIn appeals to job seekers because it allows them to post their experience and resumes and then be contacted by potential employers or recruiters. However, scammers are known to create fake profiles to disguise themselves as recruiters. They will send messages that include a link to a site that requires personal information. These kinds of websites may look legitimate, but often they ask for financial and personal information, such as Social Security numbers or birthdates. Scammers then are able to use that information to steal your identity, access bank accounts or install malware on your computer.
Your BBB offers these simple tips to avoid becoming a victim of a LinkedIn scam:
- Do not add just anyone on LinkedIn. Before connecting with or adding someone, check out their profile and connections. If you have doubts about their legitimacy, do not add them.
- Remember that you will never be asked to pay for a legitimate job. If a ‘recruiter’ mentions an opportunity where you must pay for training it is a good idea block them. A real employer will never ask you to pay to work.
- Always be wary of work-at-home jobs. Real work-at-home jobs are scarce, so be cautious when you find these postings. Be sure to check their references and talk to former employees.
- Search for the recruiter’s picture. Scammers often use a fake, generic photo and you can most likely find the photo elsewhere. A good place to check pictures is Google images.
- Insist on you calling them. If a recruiter contacts you via message, request to speak on the phone. If they seem to avoid your phone call or won’t give you their number, consider that a red flag.
- If you find yourself a victim of the scam, act fast. If a scammer can access your computer, they could have collected your personal information including passwords and banking information. Change your passwords immediately. If you see any strange banking activity, tell your bank.
- If victim of a scam, after contacting your bank or authorities, be sure to share this information with your online friends. A rising tide of awareness raises all ships.