Social media can be a force of good, connecting people across the globe. It can also be a source of evil, with unscrupulous people and companies trying to get your money, data, and personal information. Social media scams are prevalent in the virtual world; here is a closer look at how they could trick you and how to stay safe.
Searching for a job can be a thankless task, so it makes sense why you’d jump at in inquiry from a potential employer. But, it’s important to take a breath and determine if the correspondence is legitimate before you respond. Be very cautious of requests from seemingly respectable companies about your credit card numbers, passwords, or personal data, recommends Robin Ryan, contributor at Forbes.com. You must determine if the message originates with a valid company or employer.
Phishing for information
A simple click on the wrong link, attachment, or ad can unleash terrible consequences. When hackers use a social media phishing scheme, they will promise you a gift, prey on your emotions, or falsely represent themselves as a new or current friend to get you to click on their link, according to Michelle Drolet, writer for Forbes.com.
“The link on the post takes you to a website that requests personal data or causes your computer to get infected with malware, which sends out messages from your profile to your entire contact list,” she warns. It can also ask for your credit card information and then use that to make unapproved purchases.
Preying on your heartstrings
Relationships can develop quickly on social media, but not everyone is who they pretend to be. Under the guise of a fake online profile, scammers will try to win your heart. Once they have your trust, they will use it against you to profit financially. After all, if someone you loved was in trouble and needed financial assistance, you’d do anything you could to help, right? Unfortunately, your selflessness may be wasted on a liar.
“Romance scams rank as one of the top social media scams of all time. The FTC reported that in 2018 people lost $143 million — more than any other consumer fraud type,” Drolet reports.
Testing your knowledge
Who doesn’t love a quiz that tests your movie knowledge or promises to figure out what fictional character you are by asking about your dessert preferences? Since quizzes on Facebook and Twitter are such a popular online interaction, thieves are using them to their advantage.
“Launching a quiz app may give its creators permission to pull information from your profile, offering hackers an opening to steal your online identity,” warns AARP.org. Hackers can then use that information to open new lines of credit in your name, or even hack into your existing credit cards and use them to make large purchases.
Ways to protect yourself online
Although social media scammers can be crafty, you can outsmart them with a few tweaks in your online activity. Be careful with what information your share online and review your privacy settings on all your social media accounts, advises Bridget Small, writer for the Division of Consumer & Business Education for the Federal Trade Commission.
Resist online impulse purchases via an ad or a post. If you’re interested in an advertised product, go to the source and vet the company. “Type its name in a search engine with the words like ‘scam’ or ‘complaint,’” adds Small. If you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know, say no, advises AARP.org, and avoid using public Wi-Fi when you’re using your social media accounts.
Use these tips when you are navigating the complicated world of social media to keep your identity and money secure.