You may know what LinkedIn is and how it works, but you’re probably wondering if LinkedIn.com is a safe and secure website to use for business networking purposes. All social networking websites have some risks associated with them, but there are some measures you can take to ensure you never have a safety or privacy issue while using LinkedIn.
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How safe is LinkedIn?
You shouldn’t have any safety issues with LinkedIn if you take reasonable precautions. One of the biggest safety concerns to be aware of on LinkedIn revolves around user profiles. Almost anyone can sign up, and identities and qualifications are not verified, so users can sometimes misrepresent themselves.
Luckily, LinkedIn is offered as a free service. This means that you are never obligated to pay anyone for any service they offer on the website, and you are never required to enter your financial information on the website. You also have a level of control over how much personal information you choose to share on the website, so determine beforehand the level of transparency you are comfortable with, and go from there.
How to maintain privacy on LinkedIn
When you sign up for LinkedIn, you may be tempted to overshare on the website. That is, you may add a lot of extra information about yourself to your profile, thinking it may increase your chances of getting a job. But remember, LinkedIn is a social network that almost anyone can sign up for, so think carefully about what you share on the website.
Once you create your account, access your privacy settings and set them to a level you are comfortable with. Simply click on your profile picture in the top-right corner of any page, and select Privacy & Settings from the drop-down menu.
From there, click Privacy at the top of the page, and scroll through each category. Click Change to the right of any setting to change it from the default. Some things you may want to consider changing include:
- How your profile appears in search engines
- Whether you view profiles in public or private mode
- Who can see you as a suggested connection
- If your information (profile, data, etc.) is shared with third parties by LinkedIn
- How the website can advertise to you
Be sure to read our safety tips below to ensure that you are doing everything you can to protect yourself while using LinkedIn.
7 safety tips for using LinkedIn
1. Never give financial information or money to another LinkedIn user.
LinkedIn is a free service, and unless you want to sign up for LinkedIn Premium, there is no reason for you to input your financial information anywhere on the website. If you are offered a job, your employer will have their own method of collecting payroll information for you; they should not ask you to give this information out on the website. If they do, request that they collect your financial information in a more secure way.
In addition, you should never have to send money to another user for any reason, including securing a potential job prospect. LinkedIn is merely intended to connect you to people in your business field, and help you find job opportunities you may not otherwise find. You should not be required to send money to any of its users, for any reason.
2. Question and research all job offers received through LinkedIn.
Unfortunately, some users will sometimes run scams through LinkedIn, hoping to take advantage of people desperately looking for work. Question all job opportunities that are presented to you, especially those that seem “too good to be true” – they often are.
Beware messages sent to you that seem to be generic, or that offer you things that aren’t realistic (e.g. “Make $2000 a week working from home” or “We’ve reviewed your profile and you’re exactly what we’re looking for”). In addition, try not to click on any links in messages before researching the ‘alleged’ company or employer more; these links could be viruses.
3. Be careful about putting your phone number, street address, or other contact information in your LinkedIn profile.
Though only your connections can see any contact information that you put on the site (besides your email address, which everyone can see), this information should usually be kept private and only given out upon request. A potential employer does not need to know your phone number or Internet messaging criteria unless they want to contact you, and they don’t need to know your street address unless they want to hire you. A user who demands this information from you without giving you genuine reason to believe they are considering you for hire may have ulterior motives.
4. Don’t accept every invitation to connect with other LinkedIn users.
Though you may be tempted to expand your network on LinkedIn as much as possible (perhaps on the advice of a friend), you should be careful about doing this. Though it may be okay to accept connections to professionals in your (intended) business field, you should generally avoid accepting connection requests from users whom you don’t know at all, especially if they aren’t directly related to a potential job prospect.
If you accept every user as a connection without viewing their profile first, you’re much more likely to receive trivial messages on your account, or even become the victim of a scam. Always do some basic research before requesting or accepting a LinkedIn connection; a complete stranger in another country who doesn’t work in your field is not going to help you get a job.
5. Verify the identities of LinkedIn users whom you deal with.
Remember that almost anyone can sign up for LinkedIn, and that identities, personal information, or qualifications of the users cannot be identified. Whether you’re recruiting or looking for a job yourself, it is okay to ask another LinkedIn user for verification of their identity or qualifications.
If you’ve been corresponding with someone and you want to ensure they are who they say they are, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them for more information about themselves, and/or for proof of their identity. Any reasonable user who has genuine intentions will oblige you this request.
6. Report LinkedIn users who post scams or other inappropriate content.
If you come into contact with a user who is sending you unsolicited messages, running a scam, or otherwise using the website inappropriately, be sure to report them to LinkedIn. To do this, simply contact LinkedIn with information about what you have seen on the website, and they may remove the offending content or suspend/disable the account that posted it. LinkedIn also sometimes reports scams to the authorities, so be sure not to leave these issues unreported if you experience them. Remember that by reporting abuses of the website, you’re helping other LinkedIn users not fall victim to them, too!
7. Protect your LinkedIn account with a secure password… or two!
Always securely protect your account with a strong password, and don’t give your password to any other user. Even just a few minutes of control over your LinkedIn profile would give someone the opportunity to ruin your potential job prospects, and even your professional reputation (at least on LinkedIn). To learn more about creating secure passwords, check out our TechBoomers tutorial on how to make a strong password.
You can also turn on two-step verification for your account, which requires you to enter two forms of verification for your account when an unfamiliar device attempts to sign into your account. If this happens, LinkedIn will send a numeric code to your mobile device, which you will be required to enter to sign into your account. If it wasn’t you trying to sign in, you’ll know someone is trying to access your account; this may be a good time to change your LinkedIn password.
Well, that’s our rundown on LinkedIn safety! If you’re thinking of using LinkedIn, you should definitely check out our next article; we review LinkedIn to help you decide if it’s right for you. If you’re already sold, check out the next step-by-step tutorial on how to create a LinkedIn account.