Before you get too worried about identity theft, let me assure you that fake LinkedIn profiles are definitely less common than fake Twitter profiles for example. But they do exist which is why I wrote this post.
So let’s have a look at the 3 warning signs of a fake LinkedIn Profile:
1. Limited information
Fake profiles usually contain very limited information. There’s usually no summary and very little information in the experience section.
2. Fake looking profile picture
Don’t be flattered if the beautiful, perfect looking blonde or the guy with the bedroom look wants to connect with you on LinkedIn. Most likely it’s a picture from a StockPhoto service and therefore a fake profile. Either that or a person with an identity crisis. I actually received an invitation once from Asian Tom Cruise, a profile with an Asian name and Tom Cruise’s profile picture. I wish I had taken a screen shot so I could show you. So that might have not been a fake profile, just someone who thought Tom Cruise’s good looks might get him more connections. Almost worked on me.
3. Little or no Social Proof
Often these fake profiles might have several hundred connections but little to no endorsements and never any recommendations. Makes sense, no?
How can you find out if it’s a fake LinkedIn Profile?
If you are in doubt when looking at a profile and the 3 above warning signs are confirmed, the best way to find out whether it is a fake profile is to do an image search on Google: https://www.google.com/imghp. Grab the url of the person’s profile picture and add it in the Google image search home screen. You will find out about its origin (which StockPhoto service it came from) and see that it has been published in other places.
Why would someone create a fake LinkedIn Profile?
Most often those fake profiles try to get access to your network and then start spamming you and your connections with sales messages directly on LinkedIn. In other cases they are building cold calling or email lists to sell to others. And finally, there are some fake profiles who confuse LinkedIn with a dating platform and hope to get a better date by having a CEO title and bedroom look.
So even though I recommend to connect with people you don’t know (read the post about my LinkedIn Connection Strategy) I also recommend you have a good look at people’s profiles before you connect with them!