Job hunters beware of LinkedIn scammers

Summer Stephan, San Diego District Attorney

As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibil­ity between the DA’s Office and you, the community. One way I have been doing that is through this monthly column, where I provide consumer tips on public safety matters.

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 rear-view 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 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 phishing@linkedin.com.
  • 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.

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