WORCESTER -- Just weeks into the New Year, many use this time as a bench mark to evaluate where they are and where they want to take themselves in the next twelve months.

For many, this means finding a job that is more fulfilling or compatible with one's lifestyle, passion and values. Many take to the internet job forums to start their search. LinkedIn, a professional social media network where people can post their resumes and network while searching for jobs that fit their criteria, is where many start. LinkedIn can be a great resource for job seekers, however, scammers have caught on and are posing as recruiters or potential employers and they are catching some unsuspecting candidates.

LinkedIn offers many benefits, including the ability to search and be searched for at the same time. Scammers have caught on to this growing social media channel and create fake profiles and attempt to recruit vulnerable job seekers. They may send messages regarding a potential position and include a link. The link redirects the victim to a page that seems legitimate but asks for personal information, including social security numbers, birth date and financial information. Scammers then are able to use that information to steal your identity, access bank accounts or install malware on your computer.

Better Business Bureau of Central New England is advising consumers to be aware of this type of scam and be cautious of LinkedIn messages from someone you do not know. "If you are contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn, do a little research before moving forward with them," said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England, "Check out the company where they claim to be from, look for an official company website, and watch for spelling and grammar mistakes."

Your BBB offers these simple tips to avoid becoming a victim of a LinkedIn scam:

· Do not add just anyone on LinkedIn. Before connecting with or adding someone, check out their profile and connections. If you have doubts about their legitimacy, do not add them.

· Remember that you will never be asked to pay for a legitimate job. If a 'recruiter' mentions an opportunity where you must pay for training it is a good idea block them. A real employer will never ask you to pay to work.

· Always be wary of work-at-home jobs. Real work-at-home jobs are scarce, so be cautious when you find these postings. Be sure to check their references and talk to former employees.

· Search for the recruiter's picture. Scammers often use a fake, generic photo and you can most likely find the photo elsewhere. A good place to review pictures is Google images.

· Insist on you calling them. If a recruiter contacts you via message, request to speak on the phone. If they seem to avoid your phone call or won't give you their number, consider that a red flag.

· If you find yourself a victim of the scam, act fast. If a scammer was able to access your computer, they could have collected your personal information including passwords and banking information. Change your passwords immediately. If you see any strange banking activity, notify your bank.