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LinkedIn scams – how to spot fake connection requests

John E Dunn | June 28, 2016
Bogus LinkedIn accounts are now a major security risk. Here are some tips for spotting fake accounts and connections

LinkedIn scams - turn off connection visibility

One of the purposes of malicious accounts is to spread and that is achieved by studying a user's own connections. Stopping that means configuring it so that only you can see your connections (Privacy Controls > choose who can see your connections). You might also have to turn off the visibility of endorsements.

LinkedIn scams - set boundaries

Symantec's current advice is this: "If you've never met the person before, don't just add them." That strikes us as completely unrealistic. The better approach is to be discerning and set some criteria for who is accepted and who is not. This also requires actually visiting and studying the profile of anyone asking to connect. LinkedIn is supposed to be about quality, not quantity. Unfortunately, some users persist and seeing this kind of networking as a measure of popularity or importance - bad idea.

LinkedIn scams - spotting fake connections

The final judgment about fake connection request is simply noticing that they are fakes. This isn't as hard as it sounds. A recent warning put out by Symantec offers good examples of the common elements that often mark fake connections out. These include:

Generic photographs

Image of people or logos that look as if they've been lifted. Symantec recommends using a reverse image search (Google's search by image) to check out origins. Images of young women are a favourite.

Keyword stuffing

Depending on the type of fake account, scammers will always fill text with the sorts of SEO terms few real users would ever use. There will often be a lot.

A small number of connections

LinkedIn eventually spots fake accounts and closes them - scammers will almost always have only a single-digit numbers of connections. Ask yourself: why would someone you've never heard of request a connection despite being connected to few other people?

Incomplete profile

Whole sections of bogus profiles will be blank. Genuine connections rarely enter information in this way. Others sections will read as if they've been be cut and pasted form elsewhere, employing a generic writing style with misspellings.

LinkedIn scams - report fakes

LinkedIn offers a simple way to report suspicious connection requests from within the service. In the connection 'send a message' drop down box on a user's profile page, it is possible to block or report a LinkedIn user based on the following policy: "This person will be submitted for review. We'll look for inappropriate behavior or violations of our Terms of Use. Choose this option if you think this member's behavior is bad for the LinkedIn community."

Source: Computerworld UK


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