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Tricks to Spotting Fake LinkedIn Profiles

If you have ever used LinkedIn, then at one point or another you may have received a connection request from somebody unknown to you. When it comes to a website as big as LinkedIn, many people automatically assume that it is a reliable and secure platform to meet new people. In recent years, however, it has been made clear that fake LinkedIn profiles are invading the site.

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 then has access to in-depth details about who they interact with, where they work and other valuable pieces of information. Therefore, it’s important to know how to avoid these profiles. Keep reading for some handy tricks to spotting fake LinkedIn profiles.

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.

  1. 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 picture matches the age and gender of the individual and if there are any discrepancies. If you suspect the image is fake, you can reverse image search using a service like Google to see where the image originated from.

  1. Study the work experience and the position of the individual

When scanning through someone’s profile, try to see if there’s 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?

  1. 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. Try to dig deeper into this individual’s profile prior to accepting their requests.

  1. 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 use of the LinkedIn Safety Center to report the profile. This allows LinkedIn to remove these profiles from the platform, saving other users from having to deal with these accounts.

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