Tricks to Spotting Fake LinkedIn Profiles
If you have ever used LinkedIn, then at one point or another you may have received a LinkedIn connection request from somebody unknown to you. When it comes to a website as big as LinkedIn, many people will automatically assume that it is a reliable and secure platform to meet new people. In recent years, it has been made clear that fake LinkedIn profiles are scouring the site. These accounts are commonly used to connect with unsuspecting people and then gather their personal and professional information.
These fake LinkedIn profiles are more than just a nuisance; they are part of a well-designed social engineering campaign that targets people to get as much data on them as possible. Once the victim accepts the invitation to connect, the attacker will then have access to in-depth details about who they interact with, where they work and other valuable pieces of information.
How to Spot Fake LinkedIn Profiles
Being on LinkedIn gives us a false sense of security, thereby making us more trusting towards people. Attackers use this to their advantage and carry out social engineering and spear-phishing campaigns over the platform. Here are a few things to look out for while accepting such connection requests.
- Look for suspicious profile photos
An easy way to detect a fake profile is to spot a fake profile picture. If the picture being used for the profile is evidently a stock image, then this is an immediate red flag. Also, check to see if the image being used matches the age and gender of the individual and if there is are any discrepancies. If you suspect someone is using a fake image, you can reverse image search using a service like Google to see where the image originated from.
- Study the work experience and the position of the individual
When scanning through a people’s profile be on the lookout to see if you can spot some kind of natural progression throughout their career. If you only see multiple high profile positions across different fields, then this should raise a red flag. Try to use common sense as well, is it believable that you are getting an unexpected LinkedIn connection request from a Director at Microsoft or some other big corporation.
- Have a look at the number of connections and endorsements
The entire premise of LinkedIn is to connect with people from your professional network and then endorse each other to improve credibility. This can also be used to your advantage; if you see a profile with a low number of connections and endorsements, this could be a red flag. You should try to dig deeper before on this individual prior to accepting their requests.
- See the kind of groups that the individual is a part of
Another easy way to spot a fake LinkedIn profile is to look at the nature of the groups that the person is a part of. It is important to check to see if the groups have some sort of relevance to the person’s career, interests or field. If not, you should be suspicious as it is a clear red flag. It is highly advised to investigate further to see if the profile is genuine or not.
So what is protocol if you do successfully spot a fake LinkedIn profile? For one, do not accept connection requests or click on links that they send you. Secondly, make sure to make use of the LinkedIn Safety Center to report a fake profile. This allows LinkedIn to conduct their quality checks and remove these profiles from the platform saving other users from having to deal with these accounts.