How to Spot and Avoid Common LinkedIn Scams

Learn how to recognize the most common LinkedIn scams and take proactive steps to prevent identity theft.
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LinkedIn connects employers and job seekers, making it a prime target for cybercriminals. Scammers usually operate fake LinkedIn profiles, impersonating legitimate companies. They can post phony job ads or message you directly. If you engage with them, they can trick you into revealing sensitive information and even steal your identity.

Identity theft can wreak havoc on your finances and well being. The worst thing? Scammers can even commit crimes while impersonating you. Victims of identity theft could have warrants out for their arrest without even knowing.

Recognizing LinkedIn scams and using a solid identity theft protection service can help you block these attacks or minimize the damage. Learn how to stay safe on this social media platform in our full guide below.

In this article
What are LinkedIn scams
How do LinkedIn scams work
What are the most common LinkedIn scams
How to recognize a LinkedIn scam
How to deal with LinkedIn scammers
What to do if scammers have your info
LinkedIn scams FAQ
Bottom line

What are LinkedIn scams

Essentially, LinkedIn scams are phishing attacks designed to steal your private information to enable identity theft. They can be direct (a LinkedIn message) or indirect (a fake job ad).

So, if an unknown person messages you and asks personal or intimate questions, it’s most likely a scammer. The usual targets include your financial info, social security number, login credentials, and personally identifiable information (for example, your address or passport number).

How do LinkedIn scams work

LinkedIn scams come in all shapes and forms. Criminals can impersonate recruiters or customer support agents, post fake job ads, and even try to catfish you. Fortunately, most of them share the same basic anatomy.

  • Scammers usually start with an initial hook. As mentioned, this can be anything from a fake job ad to direct LinkedIn messages promising gifts, discounts, free courses, premium SEO links, bogus services, etc.
  • Since criminals often impersonate legitimate companies, potential victims tend to believe their phishing hooks. After dropping the bait and starting the conversation, scammers will try to get your private information. They can outright ask you for it, make you fill out a form, visit a fake website, or ask you to send your CV. Financial requests are also common in this phase (fees for fictitious services, for example).
  • In the execution phase, scammers have enough data for a full-blown identity theft. Their actions (and your consequences) here depend on the information they stole. Among other things, they can lock you out of your LinkedIn account, steal money from you, commit tax identity theft, and even steal your home.

The consequences of a “simple” LinkedIn scam could take years to roll back. Identity theft is devastating for the victim and extremely difficult to prove. And, despite all your efforts, you might never fully recover from these crimes.

What are the most common LinkedIn scams

When we say common scams, we’re actually referring to the type of alluring hook chosen by the criminal. Here are a few of their favorite tactics.

  • Advanced fee scam: Scammers will promise a huge windfall if you pay a small fee upfront. They can request direct payments, bank account info, or credit card numbers.
  • Employment scam: Phishers will impersonate recruiters and offer you fake high-paying jobs. They can even spoof the official company website to build trust and steal your info.
  • Equipment purchase scam: Fake recruiters can send you a check to purchase equipment for your (fake) new job. They’ll point you to specific vendors, which are actually them. The check is fake, but it will look real because banks in the U.S. have to release limited funds before actually validating the check. When your bank finds out the check is false, they’ll be after you to pay back everything you’ve spent.
  • Technical support scam: Some scammers pretend to be LinkedIn customer support agents and try to get your password or gain access to your device.
  • Dating and romance scam: LinkedIn is no stranger to dating scams. Criminals will include a romantic component in their attacks to increase their chances of getting favorable responses.

How to recognize a LinkedIn scam

LinkedIn scams are not that simple to recognize, especially if you’re desperate for a job. However, there are some common red flags that will help you recognize phishing messages on LinkedIn.

Suspicious profiles

Fake LinkedIn profiles are often incomplete, like missing details about education and past employment. Their connection count is usually low, and they frequently use stock images or have no profile pictures. They often have unusually numerous endorsements that don’t align with their work history (if they have one).

Fake job offers

Unsolicited job offers are often too good to be true. For example, scammers can promise an extremely high salary for minimal work. They can also throw in some sweet perks for good measure. The job description and communication about the role will be vague. Finally, if a potential employer requests payments for training, background checks, or equipment, it’s definitely a scam.

High-value propositions or urgency

All phishing hooks sound too good to be true because they are. For example, scammers can offer investment opportunities with unusually high returns and little to no risk. Apart from luring you in, they can also try to create a sense of urgency and get you to react without thinking. For instance, they can tell you your account is under attack while impersonating LinkedIn customer support.

Poorly worded phishing messages

Criminals like to cast a wide net with these common LinkedIn scams. They’re usually sending hundreds or even thousands of phishing messages per day. So, your scam message probably won’t be personalized; phishers will likely address you with “Sir/Madam,” “Dear LinkedIn user,” or something similar. You should also pay attention to poor wording and grammatical errors.

How to deal with LinkedIn scammers

We recommend extreme caution with unfamiliar connection requests. You should look up a person and their company before connecting with them. This especially goes if they send you a suspicious message that fits the above mentioned profiles. We advise doing thorough research before interacting with them. Ideally, you should just ignore them.

You should never open attachments or click links in suspicious messages. If you have, run a malware check immediately. It goes without saying that sharing any personal information is extremely dangerous in these situations.

Background checks are LinkedIn scammers' worst enemy. You can check any suspicious messenger’s (supposed) employer and see if they actually work there. Are they connected to other employees in that company? Do they have endorsements from those people? Visit the official company website and search for job ads that match the offer you've received. If you find enough red flags, report the scammer to LinkedIn.

What to do if scammers have your info

If scammers have your private information, you must act quickly to minimize the damage. Here's what to do.

  • Change your LinkedIn password. Create a strong password that can resist brute force attacks. A good password manager can help you with that and store all your passwords in one place.
  • Enable two-factor authentication. 2FA provides another layer of security to your LinkedIn account. You can get a code sent to your phone number or authenticator app. You can also consider using a sign-in security prompt.
  • Run an antivirus scan. Scan your device to detect and remove malware infections.
  • Report identity theft. You should report any suspicious activity and identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Monitor your credit and bank accounts. You should monitor your financial accounts to spot unauthorized transactions. If you see something suspicious, report it immediately. You should also freeze your credit to block unauthorized lines of credit.
  • Sign up for an identity theft prevention service. Good identity protection services can monitor your accounts, alert you of suspicious activity, and help you recover from identity theft.

    What are the best identity theft prevention services?

    Identity theft prevention services can automate a lot of critical processes for you. They can help you with all stages of identity theft, including prevention, reaction, and recovery. Take a look at our top picks.

    • Norton LifeLock offers up to $3 million in identity theft insurance. It also monitors your credit with all three major bureaus, alerts you of suspicious bank and credit card activity, and assigns you a personal restoration specialist in case of identity theft. Its comprehensive data monitoring covers data breaches, the dark web, social media, fictitious identities, and more.

      Get Norton LifeLock | Read Norton LifeLock Review
    • Identity Guard offers up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, white-glove fraud resolution, comprehensive identity theft protection (including 401K monitoring), premium credit protection with all three bureaus, safe browsing tools, and a password manager.

      Get Identity Guard | Read Identity Guard Review
    • IDShield by LegalShield provides comprehensive identity protection and restoration. It also offers financial protection, including 24/7 credit monitoring, credit threat alerts, financial threshold account monitoring, monthly credit score tracker, and much more. Depending on your plan, you'll also get plenty of cybersecurity tools, including a VPN and a password manager.

      Get IDShield by LegalShield | Read IDShield by LegalShield Review

      LinkedIn scams FAQ


      Can you get phished on LinkedIn?

      Yes, you can get phished on LinkedIn. We recommend caution when connecting with unknown individuals or companies, especially if they offer too-good-to-be-true deals and jobs or request your private info for whatever reason.


      How do you tell if someone is scamming you on LinkedIn?

      There are a few telltale signs of LinkedIn scams. Usually, scammers offer jobs or investment opportunities that are too good to be true. Their messages probably won't be personalized and can be packed with grammatical errors. Their LinkedIn profiles are likely incomplete, usually missing a work history or education. If you resist their prompts, they could try to create a sense of urgency to get you to comply without thinking.


      What are the most common LinkedIn scams?

      The most common LinkedIn scams involve offering fake jobs. Scammers create fake profiles and pretend to have a high-paying job offer. Then, they ask for personal information and use it to commit identity theft. Alternatively, they may ask for direct payments for whatever made-up reason.


      How do I report a scammer on LinkedIn?

      You can report a scammer on LinkedIn using this form or by reporting them on their profile.

      Bottom line

      LinkedIn has built a reputation as a professional networking haven. Unfortunately, it's also fertile ground for all types of scams. Most LinkedIn attacks rely on phishing tactics, so we recommend learning to recognize them. A successful phishing scam can lead to identity theft, which could take years to roll back (if ever).

      We also suggest thoroughly researching every job offer and potential connection. Although scammers can fashion quite a facade, you'll likely find something suspicious if you look closely enough. Finally, a solid identity theft protection service can automate many of these processes for you and help you recover from a successful attack.

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Author Details
Sara J. Nguyen is a freelance writer specializing in cybersecurity. She aims to help people protect their data while enjoying technology. She has written about online privacy and tech for over 5 years for several organizations. When she's not writing about the latest cybersecurity trends, you can find her on LinkedIn.