Why is there an impostor in my company in LinkedIn?

April 15th, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

I got an email from a friend in Washington state asking why there is someone in her LinkedIn Company page that she doesn’t know.  This is a very small company, she is an owner, and she would clearly know who she has hired and/or paid.

The way you end up in a Company in LinkedIn is simply to add the company to your current (or past) employers.  In your Profile just say whether you do or did work there.

It’s that simple.

Here’s the company page for Oneicity, the company in question:


When I click on the “marketing engineer’s” profile, I see this:


I have no idea why that person put that company in their profile, but just by doing it they show up on the company profile page.

I think LinkedIn needs to put some kind of QA in place so the Company admin can approve people, and/or take people out…  on the other hand, a company might keep it too scrubbed (which won’t be good, and will ultimately negate the integrity of the information showing).

The challenge is not trivial… what would you suggest LinkedIn incorporates?

  1. 17 Responses to “Why is there an impostor in my company in LinkedIn?”

  2. By Adrian Chira on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Jason,

    I wasn’t aware of that, but I can suggest for LinkedIn to implement something very simple like they use in case of introducing a new company. When you change your position and the company at which you say you work does not exist in the LI records they ask you to input an email address at the new company and they are verifying it. I this way they have on their records the first persons email and they have the domain name. Mu suggestion is to introduce this verification to any current position you write but to block the domain name so only those who have emails with that domain name and that can be verified will be able to add that company as their current employer.

    What do you think?

  3. By Phil Rosenberg on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Wow … I’ve wanted to work for you for years, Jason – Now’s my chance!

    Interesting observation and discussion point – How to control candidate lying (or falsehoods). It’s even more interesting, as Linkedin’s TOS suggests that falsifying your identity is grounds for banishment.

    However, this is about as controllable as people lying on their resumes, which has gone on … as long as there have been resumes.

    Adrian had an interesting idea – but since many people update their profile after leaving a company, and since some companies are officially anti-social networks, there are likely to be problems with email verification to prove you actually worked at a company. Many others first sign up for a Linkedin profile only after they have left an employer. Also, wouldn’t having to gain company approval discourage passive job seekers, who don’t want their present company to know they are updating their profile?

    In the meantime, I’m going to update my profile so I can finally work for Jason.

    What title should I use? Hmmmm…..

  4. By Phil Rosenberg on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Is fan a title?

  5. By Ste on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Jason,
    It’s our company and profile you’re discussing, and thanks for all you do by the way.

    Our wonder-woman VA Sica found this link on LinkedIn’s site (shortened): http://bit.ly/cNW4Do

    Sica’s emailed but we will see. Look forward to any other suggestions that your readers have.

    And as always, we you get back up our way, dinners on us!

  6. By Steve Thomas on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Jason,
    It’s our company and profile you’re discussing, and thanks for all you do by the way.

    Our wonder-woman VA Sica found this link on LinkedIn’s site (shortened): http://bit.ly/cNW4Do

    Sica’s emailed but we will see. Look forward to any other suggestions that your readers have.

    And as always, we you get back up our way, dinners on us!

  7. By Vijay Kumar on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    LinkedIn can try and introduce the organizational hierarchy. If this person were to identify who he reported to at the time of updating his or her profile, then that person would get a notification. This would give a chance for verification.

  8. By Adam Brock on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    I have seen a link appear next to a new job / company that allows you to report the person to Linked-In. I believe the link only appears for a short duration after the person has updated their profile.

    The link says something like “Does (name) not work here?”.


  9. By Arthur Germain on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    The problems with company pages are legion. As you’ve noted, anyone can associate themselves with a company simply by adding the company to their profile. On the positive side, this helps when a former company has been acquired and you can now associated yourself with the new company. It can help freelancers as well. But, the posers have to go.

    Another issue is the maintenance of the company page itself. Do you know who can edit a company page? Anyone with the same company email address. So, the person who has just been laid off can take out your company page on her way out as well. Oh, and since your current job title places you in the current employee section, people who leave your organization without updating their profiles will remain as current employees for some time.


  10. By John E. Bredehoft on Apr 15, 2010 | Reply

    It’s a difficult question, since these types of things can happen by accident (mistyping, two firms with the same name), or it could be deliberate. And company policing isn’t necessarily the solution – how is General Motors going to police their company page?

    I haven’t seen the message that Adam Brock cited, but if that feature is still in LinkedIn, perhaps it could be made permanent. But even that isn’t a solution, since (a) people could be maliciously reported even though they are legitimately associated with the company in question, and (b) this would have no effect for companies that no longer exist (EVERYONE can claim that they worked for Enron, should they desire to do so).

  11. By Will Knott on Apr 16, 2010 | Reply

    I have seemingly caused this myself. I worked for a small company in Ireland, there is another company with the same name in the US, and LinkedIn thought I was part of that US based company. I couldn’t see a way to “unlink” it.

    To put it another way, McDonald’s is a major brand. Of soup. All laws allow for two companies in different jurisdictions with different logos have the same name. I suspect anyone working for the soup McDonald’s will be mixed up with the burger McDonald’s.

    The catch? If a “does not work here” is implemented, there is a problem unless there is some way to remedy the shared company name problem.

  12. By Adrian Chira on Apr 19, 2010 | Reply

    Interesting discussion is going on here. Since Will Knott raised the issue of 2 or more companies having the same name, I would suggest LinkedIn to ask the person that claims the job at one company where is the HQ located (the address). In this way if the address matches with the one from the record then that person will be considered as working in that company. If the address does not match, then the user should be asked to record the new company in LI database.
    On the other hand I realize that any type of policing will not make our lives better. It is like getunvarnished.com. I somebody will want you to get banned from the site he/she can do this just by reporting that you didn’t tell the truth regarding your employment history. Since most of us are doing the right thing and the others sooner or later get caught, I think it is not feasible to start policing. Instead I would go for solutions that can limit the number of mistakes, like the ones presented above.

  13. By Ash on Apr 22, 2010 | Reply

    Once I interviewed for a job in which the interviewer had checked out my Linkedin profile quite carefully (in fact, Linkedin is how I got the interview). On my profile was listed a small company in Japan I had worked for that had no employees (or listing) on Linkedin at all. What I didn’t know is that there is another small company here in the States that has the same name . During the interview while questioning me about this company the interviewer had an odd look on this face as if he thought I was lying. Later when I went back to Linkedin I discovered why I didn’t get the job: it looked as if I had falsely claimed to have worked at this company with an identical name. I was forced to modify the name of this Japanese company so it wouldn’t happen again.

    Don’t let this happen to you.

  14. By Susan Baird on May 1, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks, Jason, for emphasizing that this is a problem, because I’m sure the developers at LinkedIn can figure something out.

    I’m a sole-proprietor (freelancer) and my profile says I have 20 employees, and lists five who only have one connection each. Now that the “follow company” option exists, this discrepancy becomes even more troubling, especially for micro-companies. For me, the names listed appear to be of Middle-Eastern origin, which may imply that I outsource my clients’ writing projects overseas, which I absolutely do not.

    I believe the five who are listed are spammers, so one suggestion I got through LinkedIn’s Q&A forum is to include in my company profile a disclaimer that I have no employees, and anyone other than me that is listed as an employee is an error. (or glitch or something) Obviously that solution doesn’t work for companies with more than 5-10 employees (who could be listed in the written profile), but it’s all we could think of for now.

    What do you think?

  15. By David O'Ryan on May 1, 2010 | Reply

    Good Morning,

    Great conversation and feedback from you all, please keep it coming! Not to hijack the thread but I would like offer assistance getting your company pages sorted out on LinkedIn.

    Here are 2 links for a)info on the company pages and b)to facilitate the fix!


    My best to you all!

  16. By Jason Alba on May 1, 2010 | Reply

    @David – anyone from LinkedIn (including you) is welcome here anytime… that is not thread hijacking, it’s an honor to have you weigh in… unfortunately LI has done a crappy job making us (the users) feel like anyone is listening, so I applaud your comment here.

    I would, however, advise you to say something like “I work at LinkedIn” or something like that… just to let us know where you are coming from :)

    thanks for the link. It’s a weak bandaid solution for now, but it works. Will be anxious to see a more comprehensive solution.

    - jason

  17. By Shane Clifford on Apr 25, 2011 | Reply

    Hi All…

    Unfortunately the problem is still current. As a sole proprietor (owner operator)with no employees, I was suprised (pissed off) to find 158 fraudulent claims of employment by various people on my Linked In company page. When I asked LI how to rectify this they asked me to send a screen shot / URL for each offending claim. This is totally impractical. Unfortunately this annoying recurrence is devaluing my endeavours to establish brand quality, and it leaves a pretty sour taste in my mouth re Linked-In as well.

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