How to spot fake profiles on LinkedIn

Do you take offence when a cashier holds up your money against the light and looks at it like it’s fake? Sadly, counterfeit notes are rampant. We are surrounded by “fake” – fake money, friends, love, relationships, and the latest in a long line of fakes is fake profiles.

People do not always create fake profiles. Bots sometimes make them to access your profile information, track your activity – who you interact with, work with, and collect data like email addresses and phone numbers. Fake profiles are harder to spot (than counterfeit currency), but it’s not impossible to identify them. Here are five ways to spot fake profiles on LinkedIn.

1.    Profile pictures you can’t believe

Profile pictures are the most obvious giveaway. Fake profiles use attractive images that make you wish you were half as attractive. It’s not just perfect-looking images of women that are used, but images of men too. If you look closely at these profiles, you will find discrepancies that don’t add. For example, you might notice the profile photo is of a man, but the profile clearly states it’s a woman (or vice versa). Another example is that the profile image is of a young person when the profile states they were born about two decades earlier.

Beware of people who use logos instead of photos…

Solutions: 

2.   Receiving multiple invitations from the same company

If you start receiving an unusually high number of invitations from people from the same company, this is often the sign of fake LinkedIn accounts.

Another giveaway would be many requests from people with very similar headlines.

3.Suspicious Work History

Not everybody who receives an education from a prestigious university gets a great job. But if a profile lists that type of education, yet the work history is that of someone with more of a “menial” job, it should at least make you think twice about the profile, and whether to connect with that person. If the trajectory of work experience seems odd or off, it probably is.

Also, a growing number of fake LinkedIn profiles are related to recruiters, as that service appears to be a plausible reason to connect with someone you don’t know. Check other work experience and facets – or better yet, look for their current employer elsewhere online and see if the person with the suspect profile is, in fact, listed as working there.

Solution: Look for endorsements – they are a fantastic way to determine the authenticity of a profile.

4.   Connections oozing from every pore

View any profile that brags of over 100000 followers with suspicion. Again, it might not always be a fake profile – it could be someone who has worked hard at getting those connections. So how do you know if the profile is genuine or fake?

Solution: Conduct a validity check of the profile with common connections.Check for conversations and updates. A genuine and serious professional will be active on the platform, while fake profiles or non-professional people do not engage in discussions.

5.   You are offered a crème position.

Recruitment scams are not uncommon on LinkedIn and can take on a nasty turn. If you get a job offer that looks too good to be true, consider that it probably is. Fake recruiters might be on the lookout for personal information, getting access to your connections, or even ripping you off.

Solution: Beware of recruiters who ask for personal information (Social Security Number or address) or money.

6.   Fake profiles with prominent (and less noticeable) fake names

It’s not uncommon to come across profiles that go by names like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, or even Harry Potter 😲🤪

The difficulty comes when fake profiles make use of less obvious names.

Solution: If you get an invitation from a high-profile personality, you can be sure that 9 x out of 10 the person will be a fake – look for the little blue LinkedIn Influencer symbol next to their name for authenticity.

For profiles with standard names, consider running a name, company, reverse image, endorsements, and connections check.

7. ROOOOOAAAAR – Heard of LIONS?

LinkedIn Open Networkers

These LinkedIn members have the word LION in their headline to indicate that they will connect with anyone, spammers and fake accounts included. I would advise to stay well away from these profiles.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to spot a fake profile but if you take the time to look for discrepancies, you are likely to find some. When considering the reliability of a LinkedIn profile, don’t consider parts of the profile. Instead, look at every aspect of the profile in detail – headline, display image, name, company profile, summary, the language used, and connections. That will give you a better idea of the person’s legitimacy and intentions. A global view.

(If you have ever considered creating a fake account on LinkedIn, don’t go ahead with it. LinkedIn takes strict action against those creating fake accounts on its platform.)

Finally, when you find a fake profile, don’t hesitate to report it to LinkedIn to take further action.

You can flag inappropriate or fake profiles on LinkedIn (i.e. profiles that contain profanity, empty profiles with fake names, or profiles that are impersonating public figures).

To report a profile:

  1. Click the  More icon on the member’s profile.
  2. Click  Report/Block.
  3. Select Report this profile in the What do you want to do? pop-up window.
  4. Select the applicable reason for flagging the profile in the Tell us a little more pop-up window.
  5. Click Submit to proceed or Back to review your options.

Stay alert and stay safe!

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