LinkedIn Job Scams (and How To Avoid Them)
Job scammers are clever. They know that you’re more likely to trust job listings, private messages, and emails that appear to originate from trusted sources. But although venerable job sites like LinkedIn go to great lengths to weed out frauds, job scammers still slip through the cracks.
Further, there’s a lot they can do without even posting on the site. If you’ve ever received a phishing email that appears to come from a site you know and trust, you’ve seen how easy it is to spoof email addresses.
Fake job ads and emails like these can cost you time and money, and even result in ID theft. To outwit the scammers, use these techniques:
Look for Scammy Keywords
Scammers may be growing more sophisticated, but their tricks are often new variations on an old theme. You can identify many LinkedIn job scams by looking for telltale keywords, such as:
- Accept payment
- Enrollment fee
- Package processing/shipping/reshipping
- Mystery shopper
- Wire transfer
Legitimate employers will never ask you for money or personal information upfront. Nor will they promise you a high salary for entry-level work. You will never be asked to forward a package, write a check, or cover the costs of training or equipment. Any job listing that mentions these things is almost certainly fake.
Research Appropriate Pay Ranges
One of the top job scam warning signs is pay that’s wildly out of line with the market. Employers don’t pay more for positions than they have to. So, if you see a LinkedIn job listing that offers a salary that’s much higher than typical for the role, it’s probably a fake.
Of course, if you’re just starting out in your career, moving to a new area, or changing careers, you might have no idea what’s going on with pay in the industry. To get a sense of a reasonable pay range, research salaries on free online salary calculators like Salary.com, Glassdoor, and Payscale.
Beware Remote Job Scams
Remote work has become part of the employment landscape, probably for good. A Gallup survey showed that only 20% of workers in remote-capable jobs worked entirely on-site in June 2022. However, as teleworking surged, so did remote job scams.
How can you tell that a remote job listing is fake? FlexJobs, an online database of remote and flexible job listings, offers a few signs of remote job scams including:
- Higher-than-typical pay
- Spelling and grammatical errors in the job listing
- Personal email addresses (e.g., Gmail or Yahoo) instead of a corporate email address
- Fees or payments from job seekers
- Requests for direct deposit information, e.g., your Social Security number, prior to an interview process
Match Email Addresses and URLs
Some fraudsters are smart enough not to use a Gmail address. Instead, they might use a legitimate-looking address that’s just slightly off, e.g., [email protected]. They’ll pull similar tricks with URLs, using .co instead of .com (or vice versa) or tweaking the company name just slightly.
To avoid falling for these listings, Google the company before you apply. You’ll quickly see whether the real URL matches the one in the listing and may be able to get a sense of the email conventions in use at the company.
Check Recruiters’ Profiles
Legitimate recruiters will have a professional LinkedIn profile with activity updates over several months or years, plus experience including previous jobs as a recruiter or HR professional. They may also have endorsements, recommendations, and certifications (e.g., SHRM-Certified Professional). Beware recruiters who are new to LinkedIn or have sparsely populated profiles.
Never Click Links in Messages or Emails
As a general practice, avoid clicking links within LinkedIn messages or personal emails. Go directly to the LinkedIn site or app to read InMail or apply for jobs. This will protect you from clicking on fraudulent links and falling victim to phishing emails targeting your login credentials, Social Security number, or financial information.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
To further secure your account, LinkedIn recommends enabling two-factor authentication. This security measure adds another step to the sign-in process, which makes it harder for fraudsters to access your LinkedIn account and impersonate you or steal your information. If you sign up for two-factor authentication, you can either opt to receive a code via text message or use an authenticator app on your phone.